In 1989, CSIRO published Richard Eckersley’s report, “Regreening Australia: The environmental, economic and social benefits of reforestation”, a preliminary investigation into a large national program to “regreen Australia” through massive reforestation and revegetation over a period of 10-20 years. (The full report is available on his website www.Richardeckersley.com.au.)
The main justification for the program was to combat land degradation, regarded as Australia’s most serious environmental problem. However, the report outlined other potential benefits, including mitigating and adapting to climate change; protecting biodiversity; increasing the sustainability and productivity of Australian agriculture; boosting timber resources; building environmental management expertise and innovation; creating many useful jobs; and lifting national morale.
The report attracted a great deal of public, political and professional interest, but was never implemented on the scale envisaged and necessary to realise the benefits. Over 20 years on, there are grounds for re-assessing the report’s recommendations, especially that climate change has become a more widely recognised, serious and urgent problem; the scientific case for reforestation as a means of countering climate change has become stronger; and, in the event of deepening global financial crises, job generation will become an important part of maintaining economic and social stability.
If you would like to know more about this project or you would like to contribute in some way, please contact Richard Eckersley at firstname.lastname@example.org.