In a nation first for a national parks agency, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has committed to become carbon positive by 2028!


Over the weekend, Environment Minister Matt Kean announced the release of the NPWS’s Carbon Positive Plan, which outlines the agency’s aims to have national parks collect more carbon than it takes to maintain them.

The plan involves a combination of reducing NPWS’s operational footprint and increasing the sequestration of carbon across the national park estate.

‘This is a visionary plan that highlights the importance of the national parks in combating climate change alongside the critical role they already play in the conservation of biodiversity providing home to 85% of threatened species in the state,’ Mr Kean said.

Nice to see our leaders taking climate change seriously for once!

Reducing the Operational Carbon Footprint

By 2025 NPWS aims to have reduced the carbon output that it takes for the agency to operate by 55% through;

  • installing onsite solar and converting to 100% renewable electricity
  • switching to 100% renewable energy electric passenger vehicles
  • reducing waste
  • updating refrigeration and air conditioning assets with high efficiency models
  • trialling electric vehicle charging stations in key park areas

The plan acknowledges that there are some contributing factors to the agency’s footprint, such as heavy vehicles like tractors and diggers used in the parks, that don’t currently have a zero-emission alternative available.

So to offset these unavoidable operational emissions, NPWS plans to have the national parks estate sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere than the agency takes to maintain it.

The Plan to Sequester More Carbon

As NSW’s national parks represent over 40% (around 900 megatonnes) of the forest carbon in the state, it’s vital that these stores are protected and not emitted into the atmosphere. 

To protect these carbon stores NPWS will invest in and implement effective fire management plans that take the changing nature of climate change and hazard reduction burns into account.

As well as protecting carbon stores, there’ll also be investment into a number of carbon sequestration projects to actively draw down carbon from the atmosphere. So far this includes the planting of indigenous trees and the exclusion of feral animals that often destroy these trees.

Read more: How Does Tree Planting Work to Restore the Planet?

Koonaburra is a current project underway that aims to remove around 900,000 tonnes of CO2 in the next 25 years.

NSW National Parks at COP26

The Carbon Positive Plan comes as the NPWS signs the Protected and Conserved Areas Joint Statement in Climate Change and Biodiversity (now that’s a mouthful) at COP26 in Glasgow, which has been signed by other protected area managers around the globe.

‘In signing this Statement the NSW Government acknowledges the critical importance of national parks and the commitment the NPWS has to implementing global nature-based solutions, such as revegetation, to managing our twin environmental crises: the accelerating destruction of nature and climate change,’ Mr Kean said.

Here’s hoping other states and territories start to follow suit!


Feature photo thanks to @conormoorephotography