As a specific area that also cuts across all aspects of life in the region, the topic area of environment and conservation revolves around not only climate change, but the preservation of a liveable environment for all creatures, as well as numerous landscapes and habitat.
The two are of course linked in the sense that a liveable environment demands a liveable climate, and yet they may come into conflict at times. There is a clear risk that many initiatives introduced to decarbonise run the risk of further eroding the environments and conservation efforts. The introduction of wind energy, to take one example, brings with it an overt danger to birdlife, as well as an increase in road use and development more generally.
Concern for the environment and conservation must also be outward looking. There is little to be gained in pursuing strong environmental outcomes in Southern Gippsland if decarbonising the region more generally means the destruction of various natural habitats and ecosystems in other parts of the world, as is happening with mining for various precious metals necessary for the production of solar panels and batteries. That is, there can be no just outcomes for Southern Gippsland without the same outcomes being won in all the places that typically fall under the category of externalities.
How then can strong outcomes in the topic area of environment and conversation be pursued that enables the region to decarbonise, protects the existing habitat of plants, animals, birds and insects as well as the health of our waterways, soils and air, and avoids shifting the problems that potential solutions bring with them to places and people not in our immediate periphery?
The place to start will be with all the incredible work already going on across the region, from Landcare and regenerative farming, to animal shelters and the restoration of creeks and rivers, to neighbourhood based habitat restoration in towns and hamlets, to the various community gardens and other initiatives aimed at stemming the tide of environmental destruction and ensuring a liveable region for all creatures for many years to come.
South Gippsland spans Bunurong and Gunai-Kurnai country. We acknowledge that this land is unceded and pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. A just transition is one that allows for First Nations' sovereignty.
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