Leading community services organisation, Uniting Communities, has become the first not-for-profit to support South Australia’s first biodiverse carbon offset project.

The revenue from the carbon credits purchased by Uniting Communities will go towards permanently protecting and enhancing more than 1,075 hectares of revegetated land, creating critical habitat for internationally important migratory shorebirds and other threatened wildlife.

A partnership between the South Australian Government and Biodiverse Carbon Conservation (Greening Australia’s carbon trading arm), the project operates across four South Australian Government conservation reserves and one privately owned property in the Murray–Darling Basin.

‘We’re excited to be leading the way on such an important environmental project in South Australia,’ said Uniting Communities’ Chief Executive, Simon Schrapel. ‘As a certified carbon neutral organisation, we’ve worked hard to reduce our impact on the environment, as it is our customers and clients who will be among those most affected by climate change. Through this initiative, we can also have a direct and positive impact on the numerous wildlife species that live in or migrate to South Australia’s wetlands.’

Every year, tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds from countries including Russia, China and Japan cross the Pacific Ocean to feed and shelter in water bodies across South Australia. One of these sites is The Coorong and Lakes at the end of the River Murray, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The Coorong and Lakes attract a vast array of migratory and native shorebirds, including Fairy Terns, Orange-bellied Parrots, Banded Stilts and Emu Wrens.

In addition to its significant carbon offset and environmental impacts, the program offers numerous economic and social benefits to local communities across the State, such as improving soil and water quality, and decreasing salinity.

Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, said the Coorong and Lower Lakes were on the brink of collapse during the millennium drought, but the area is slowly starting to recover.

‘The South Australian Government is working to restore this iconic area of our state,’ he said. ‘This partnership supports the revegetation of important areas and boosts our remediation goals.’

In December 2015, Uniting Communities was the first South Australian organisation and the first registered charity in Australia to receive certification under the Federal Government’s Carbon Neutral Program. It became the first Ambassador for Carbon Neutral Adelaide in December 2017, and its U City development in the CBD has been recognised as one of South Australia’s ‘greenest’ building designs to date.

The organisation also purchases offsets from other carbon offset programs interstate and overseas and, at December 2018, had offset more than 8,300 tonnes of carbon emissions relating to its operations.

Brendan Foran, CEO of Greening Australia, said, ‘Carbon credit production is still a precious commodity in Australia, so we are excited to be able to partner with other like-minded organisations like Uniting Communities to make it a reality.

‘This is something we’d like to see used as a national model for putting biodiverse carbon back into areas to create healthy, productive landscapes where nature and people thrive.’

For comment
Simon Schrapel
Chief Executive, Uniting Communities
0411 643 132

Suzanne Ridding
Beyond Carbon Neutral Program Manager, Uniting Communities
0411 520 830