Victorian leaders plan to restore 200,000 hectares — an area at least twice the size of New York City — of private land throughout the state, planting millions of trees and shrubs that will allow native wildlife to thrive while seizing millions of tonnes of carbon. 

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy, environment and climate change minister, said the project would safeguard Victoria’s rich biodiversity while “restoring native habitats, creating regional jobs [and] capturing carbon to help Victoria reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”

More than 4.5 million tonnes of carbon are expected to be captured and stored thanks to the initiative. 

The scheme, officially known as BushBank, will see over AU$30 million split between Aboriginal and Torres Islanders environmental groups and flora and fauna non-profit organisations like Greening Australia, Bush Heritage and Trust for Nature.

“Aboriginal Victorians know what is best for community and Country,” Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams said in a statement. “Through supporting the traditional management of our natural environments, we support better outcomes for everyone.”

Williams says among the animals set to benefit from the scheme are species of owls, bandicoots, gliders and cockatoos.

Carbon capture and storage — the process of acquiring greenhouse gas emissions and storing them deep underground — has been criticised in the past by Australian green groups as a “smoke and mirror attempt” to lower the nation’s emissions.

While D’Ambrosio says millions of tonnes of carbon will be captured — and that the program will be vital to Victoria reaching its emissions-reduction goals — Australia’s Climate Council believes the “eye-wateringly expensive” process will “never be a zero-emissions solution.”

"It is far better and cheaper to avoid carbon emissions in the first place, rather than try to capture them after they’ve been released,” the nation’s leading climate change communications organisation explained. “Global temperatures do not stop increasing until emissions reach net-zero.”

“The only solution is to stop burning coal, oil and gas,” they added.


Defend the Planet

Australia’s Victoria State to Restore Private Land Twice the Size of New York City

By Madeleine Keck