On Earth Day (22 April 2021), the National Soils Advocate, the Hon. Penny Wensley AC, hosted a forum: Soil Organic Carbon – Realities and science for policy advisers and decision-makers.
The subject of soil carbon has been attracting increased attention, across diverse sectors and among a range of stakeholders – in government, business, industry, the agricultural and energy sectors – with its role in climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster resilience of particular interest.
‘This forum responds to that interest, and is being held at an opportune time,’ said Penny Wensley, addressing attendees at the National Press Club in Canberra.
‘As the government finalises a new National Soil Strategy, and is also directing greater attention to the issue of soil carbon sequestration and to soil carbon policy, it is important that there be a good understanding of the science involved.
‘The COVID pandemic has underlined the importance of science, as a critical input to public policy and government decision-making.
‘At this time, it is certainly a priority that our policy advisers and decision-makers understand what the science is telling us about soil organic carbon. This scientific understanding will also tell us what is achievable when it comes to sequestering soil carbon,’ she said.
The program was tailored for non-scientists working on soil-related policy, helping attendees gain a better understanding of the challenges and complexities associated with changing and quantifying change in soil organic carbon.
Attendees heard evidence-based information from some of Australia’s top soil scientists.
Adopting practices that aim to increase soil carbon leads to soil health benefits, productivity gains and greater resilience. There are also situations where farmers want to increase soil carbon, quantify this change and gain income from the sale of credits. Participants heard about the research into soil carbon and associated complexities.
‘We believe it is important to forge closer links between science and policy, between scientists and the decision-makers, in both government and the private sector,’ Penny Wensley said.
‘This forum aimed to do that and to build better understanding of the realities and complexities associated with soil organic carbon.
‘My office will continue to do all it can to encourage and facilitate useful, informed discussion of this important subject,’ she said.
The Office of the National Soils Advocate supports the National Soils Advocate.
Find more information on the Forum, including presentations and summaries of sessions.