March 14, 2020

Scaling up to meet Australia’s greatest environmental challenges

An injection of critical funding is enabling two of the world’s largest conservation initiatives – the Great Eastern Ranges (GER) and Gondwana Link – to scale up to meet some of Australia’s greatest environmental challenges.

A grant from The Ian Potter Foundation is supporting the initiatives in their work to restore and reconnect habitat, stem the loss of native species, provide robust natural solutions to climate change, and improve the health, wellbeing and economies of communities at the continental scale.

“The Ian Potter Foundation grant is assisting us to ramp up efforts to achieve our bold visions of restoring and reconnecting healthy habitats across thousands of kilometres as well as facilitating a national approach to connectivity conservation to drive collective impact, says Mr Gary Howling, Executive Director, Great Eastern Ranges Inc.

“Through the funding we are advancing our efforts to bring people together, coordinate resources, build knowledge and capacity, and deliver best available science and expertise.”

“The Foundation is pleased to support conservation initiatives like GER and Gondwana Link which address both carbon storage and biodiversity loss at the whole-of-landscape scale. Their collaborative approach supported by a diverse network of partners empowers grassroots landowners and organisations. It also builds social capital, placing value on relationships and participation, with everyone playing their part and encouraging the wider community to get involved,” says Mr Charles Goode AC, Chair of The Ian Potter Foundation.

The Great Eastern Ranges and Gondwana Link landscapes are two of Australia’s critically important biodiversity hotspots. Together they support a significant proportion of the continent’s threatened animals and plants, and carbon-rich forests and woodlands.

The funding comes at a particularly critical time, helping the initiatives to better support their networks in response to the devastating bushfires of 2019 to 2020 which swept through vast swathes of the ranges and parts of Gondwana Link.

“Through the grant, GER and Gondwana Link have been able to lift our national effort to protect, manage and reconnect our unique natural landscapes to reverse nature’s decline in the face of a climate of increasing risks, says Mr Keith Bradby, Director of Gondwana Link Ltd.

With 2021 marking the beginning of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the funding has placed the initiatives in a better position to contribute to accelerating the global restoration of degraded landscapes and helping emerging conservation initiatives to do the same.

“But the environmental challenges we face, such as increasing habitat loss, fragmentation, weed invasion, feral animal predation and the impacts of climate change, are immense and require a long-term solution, said Keith.

“Our large landscape approach to conservation directly addresses these causes of decline at the scale needed to make a meaningful difference. We are calling on other organisations to throw their weight behind our efforts too so that we can further expand our work.”

The value of large landscape connectivity approaches for curbing extinction rates, climate mitigation and ensuring healthy, resilient landscapes are being increasingly recognised in Australia and worldwide.

In the future, these diverse landscapes will provide wildlife with the best opportunity to move and adapt in response to a changing climate, as well as provide vital refugia (areas that species can survive in during unfavourable conditions) for threatened species.

“By supporting efforts in the highest priority places, we are achieving something far greater than the sum of our parts – securing the future of two of the world’s great landscapes and the wildlife within,” said Mr Howling.

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