WWF Urges Aus Gov to Set Up $5B Green Fund to Protect Forests

Environmental groups are pushing for the 30 x 30 commitments to be included in future Regional Forestry Agreements.

Tue 28 Nov 23


The WWF is leading a push for the Australian Government to set up a $5 billion “green fund” to buy up and protect more than 60 million hectares of “high biodiversity value” land.

Published yesterday, “Protecting Australia’s Nature – Pathways to protecting 30% of land by 2030” calls on the Albanese Government to accelerate land purchases to meet its “30 x 30” commitments as outlined in the Global Biodiversity Framework.

The Australian Government signed the “30 x 30” target at COP15 in December 2022, with a commitment to ensure that 30% of the earth’s land and sea is protected through the establishment of protected areas (PAs) and other area-based conservation measures (OECMs).

Last year, Australia was one of the signatories to the 30 X 30 Global Biodiversity Framework. Footage courtesy of @BBCNews.

According to the report, co-authored by WWF-Australia, Nature Conservancy, the Australian Land Conservation Alliance and Pew Charitable Trust, the percentage of Australia’s land protected stands at 22%, with the pact now pushing to preserve the balance by 2030.

It claims that the decision by the Victorian, Western Australian (and Queensland) governments to phase out native forest harvesting will assist in meeting targets, with the review of Regional Forest Agreements providing an opportunity to go further.

“The foreshadowed review of the National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) presents an opportunity to consider incorporating 30×30 commitments and other recent biodiversity conservation policies and commitments,” the report said. “This should involve a review of the various Regional Forest Agreements.”

The new laws were announced in August 2023 following the release of the State of the Environment Report. Footage courtesy of @SkyNewsAustralia.

As reported by Wood Central, the Australian Government is drafting new standards as part of a revamp of environmental law and has vowed to apply them to Regional Forest Agreements.

The Regional Forest Agreements are federal-state deals that have effectively enjoyed an exemption from national environment laws on the basis that reserves and forest practice requirements are sufficient.

Included in Australia’s new Nature Positive Act, there are concerns that a lack of review mechanism for decisions made by the Environment Protection Authority could lead to a ‘Yes Minister’ scenario for environmental decisions involving sustainable forest management.

The group calls on the government to repurpose more Crown Land (like State Forests), which will be more cost-effective and easy to execute for land acquisitions.

“There are various types of Crown land in Australia that could be considered for conversion into protected areas, providing cost-effective opportunities for cost opportunity without the cost of acquisition to obtain protection outcomes,” the report said.

It also claims that more than 6,000 privately owned properties across Australia protect more than 10 million hectares of land, but barriers at all levels of government make acquisitions difficult.

The Australian Government National Reserve System Programme was defunded by the former Australian Government according to the authors of the report. Footage courtesy of @CSIRO.

They want the Australian Government to restore the National Reserve System Programme (which the Rudd and Gillard government used to purchase land) and introduce a conservation covenant programme that incentivises the sustainable management of privately held lands and supports indigenous Australians.

“Targeted support for covenanting has been shown to deliver outcomes for threatened species or ecological communities,” the report said, before continuing, “emerging covenant innovations are endeavouring to promote greater relevance and opportunities for First Nations ownership, access and management of Country.”

The report, written by scientists and policy experts, provides four clear recommendations for the Australian Government to reach 30×30:

  • Establish a new dedicated $5 billion fund to purchase land of high biodiversity importance to create new public, private or Indigenous protected areas. 
  • Rebuild government capacity and continue to support the creation of new Indigenous Protected Areas to meet Traditional Owner demand and aspirations and establish secure long-term funding for managing Indigenous Protected Areas.
  • Encourage permanent conservation covenants through:
    • direct support to state and territory conservation covenant programs with an explicit focus on expanding the protection of areas in under-represented bioregions and ecosystems
    • support for states and territories in developing enhanced protection conservation covenants to attract larger-scale private conservation investment 
    • Treasury or Productivity Commission review into federal and state tax, financial incentives, and barriers to private land conservation.
  • Partner with states and territories to identify areas of high conservation significance and protected area opportunities. 

For more information about the report, visit the Nature Conservancy Australia.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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