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Helping drive nature-based solutions with funding to Deakin University's Blue Carbon Lab

BHP has provided philanthropic funding to Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab to help drive ground-breaking research on nature-based solutions to climate change across Australia.

This funding will support two ambitious research projects led by Deakin University with the agricultural sector to establish scalable, replicable, and cost-effective ways to maximise the potential of blue (coastal wetlands) and teal (inland wetlands) carbon ecosystems to manage the challenges of climate change.

BHP Group Climate and Sustainability Officer, Dr Fiona Wild said: “We see great value in using nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change. In addition to the climate benefits, they also provide benefits to biodiversity and communities. BHP is pleased to support the work of Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab in developing cost-effective ways to restore and protect coastal and inland wetlands.”

The first project, led by environmental research scientist and Research Fellow at Deakin University's Blue Carbon Lab, Dr Melissa Wartman, will focus on upscaling cost-effective coastal wetland restoration activities through the exclusion of non-native hard-hooved animals from coastal wetland ecosystems. This will involve mapping the scale of opportunity across Australia, assessing farmers amenability to restoring coastal wetlands, quantifying the ‘willingness to pay’ for restoration outcomes of the general population, and investigating financing solutions (e.g., carbon markets).

The second project, led by environmental scientist, ecologist, and evolutionary biologist at Deakin University's Blue Carbon Lab, Dr Martino Malerba, aims to improve the management of farm dams by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality, and promoting local biodiversity. This project will monitor farm dams across Australia, engage farmers through citizen science workshops, and test innovative nature-based solution (e.g., floating wetlands) to increase their ecological and environmental values.

Director of Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab, Professor Peter Macreadie said: “We need to work together with industry to be able to genuinely reduce climate change. There is untapped potential to develop low-cost strategies for rehabilitating coastal wetlands and enhancing their carbon-sink capacity, and for managing farm dams to minimise their carbon footprint while also promoting biodiversity.’

“These projects aim to empower Australian landholders to protect coastal wetlands and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their farm dams, contributing to Australia’s commitment to tackle climate change.”

Blue carbon refers to the carbon trapped and stored in vegetated, coastal ecosystems, primarily mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses. Similarly, teal carbon refers to carbon trapped in freshwater vegetated areas, such as farm dams and inland wetlands.

Both blue and teal carbon ecosystems are essential natural carbon sinks to mitigate climate change, as they can be extremely efficient at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away in the soil for millennia.

Full media release from Deakin University here.