September 22 2021

Sustainable grants September 2021

By The Ian Potter Foundation

Peole crouched plannting seedlings in open field with rainforest in background
Planting a rainforest and restoring critical habitat for rare and threatened species brings a community together every year in Australia’s Daintree.
Image courtesy of Rainforest Rescue. Photographer: Jasmine Carey.

In the Sustainable pillar, eleven grants were awarded totalling $4,569,300.  These included one major single-year grant ($500,000) for core funding to ClimateWorks Australia, seven on-ground multi-year environment projects (totalling $3,121,300), two multi-year environmental research projects (totalling $928,000) and one $20,000 impact enhancement grant supporting the Australian Network for Plant Conservation.

Major grant

ClimateWorks Australia
Core Funding

This single-year major grant of $500,000 to ClimateWorks Australia supports its efforts to deliver change. The core funding will allow ClimateWorks to translate research into an action-oriented agenda for its Land Use Futures work with increased, complementary capabilities supporting ClimateWorks existing foundational work.

ClimateWorks' Land Use Futures project and Natural Capital Investment Initiative will together bring land, food and biodiversity onto the net-zero agenda. With this extra support, ClimateWorks can focus on building an action agenda, scaling up communications for a broader audience, and improving network outreach to draw out implications of its work for decision-makers.

The Land Use Futures program will soon be able to show what sustainable land use looks like in Australia, developing long-term pathways for transforming food, agriculture and land-use systems and national priorities for action.  Running in parallel, the Natural Capital Investment Initiative is a critical enabler of system change which provides a common set of natural capital measures and consistent language, supports market drivers and competition, simplifies data collection methodologies for farmers and provides appropriate incentives.   The grant funds will also allow ClimateWorks to leverage international momentum from the UN Food System Summit into informed dialogue with key Australian stakeholders that will accelerate the impact of international dialogue into domestic planning and action.

In May 2021, Craig Connelly, CEO of The Ian Potter Foundation, facilitated a session at the Philanthropy Australia Summit, 'Land Futures – pathways to a sustainable food and land use system', in which he stated:

'The real value in funding organisations is recognising that organisations like ClimateWorks spend every day, and every minute of every day, thinking deeply about the issue…and the best way to facilitate change as a funder is to empower those capable of delivering that change.'

Environment – On-ground projects

Rainforest Rescue
Powering up the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest's New Nursery to Support Large-Scale Restoration
$495,000 over three years

Rainforest Rescue is building a new native rainforest tree nursery and expanding its capacity from propagating 12,000 trees (from an astonishing 180 species of rainforest plants) per annum to an estimated 75,000 in 12 months and up to 150,000 per annum in three years to keep up with growing demand.  As a result, Rainforest Rescue now needs philanthropic support to increase its staff capacity and output – for seed collection and propagation – over this transition period until the projected income from expanded seedling sales starts to flow in 2024.

The Daintree Rainforest has suffered significant degradation through land clearing and agriculture for many decades. As commercial agriculture becomes less sustainable and economic markets such as carbon and reef credits begin to value environmental benefits, Daintree restoration is becoming more economically viable and attractive. To both support and take advantage of these opportunities, conservation organisations need significantly more locally sourced, genetically appropriate trees as soon as possible.

Rainforest Rescue has established itself as an expert in the field of wet tropics rainforest restoration, with strong examples of past successful purchase or regeneration projects, 22 of which have achieved permanent protection with Nature Refuge Status. Funds will help them employ several new staff, including expanding the Nursery Manager role to full time and bringing on a new project manager, as well as increasing their seed collection capacity in partnership with the Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation rangers.

The organisation also partners with Australian PlantBank scientist Dr Karen Sommerville (whose work is funded through a grant from the Foundation in 2018 to Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney) and with James Cook University researchers investigating how climate change will impact rainforest species and seed adaptability in lowland forests (also recipients of a grant from the Foundation in 2018).

Port Phillip Ecocentre Inc.
Shaping best practice under Victoria's new environmental laws
$427,000 over four years

The Port Phillip EcoCentre, currently located in the St Kilda Botanic Gardens' old Park-Keeper's house, is a community-managed environmental organisation initiated by the City of Port Phillip in 1998 as a local environmental hub and has grown to be a leader in Port Phillip Bay health and the urban ecology of Greater Melbourne.

Port Phillip EcoCentre operates with a suite of qualified scientists and educators as both paid and voluntary staff, a network of 300+ partners, and a trusted track record of providing clear, evidence-based and interdisciplinary information and insights to councils, industry and community groups.

The EcoCentre is planning to expand its program of activities as they move into a new purpose-built facility in the next few years. This grant will assist the organisation to create several new roles to boost their capacity to deliver information, advice and a community sector voice in cross-disciplinary environmental activities.

Funding will allow the EcoCentre to employ an Impact Broker, who will utilise citizen science activities and datasets to engage with decision-makers in councils and businesses and communicate best practices under EPA Victoria’s new ‘General Environmental Duty’ laws. This will also meet the growing demand for a community sector voice and expert input into a multitude of planning and reporting consultations, and at the same time explore the development of a model for a fee-for-service investment in environmental NGO expertise.

Derwent Estuary Program Limited
Using revolutionary real-time analyser technology to inform best practice environmental river management in Tasmania
$246,000 over three years

The Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) is a regional, not-for-profit partnership between the Tasmanian Government, local governments in the Hobart region, industry, scientists and the community. Their mission is to undertake and share science about the River Derwent, enabling informed decisions to ensure the river has a healthy and diverse ecosystem that also supports recreational and commercial use, and is a source of community pride and enjoyment.

This project aims to use novel in-situ real-time analyser technology, developed by the University of Tasmania in partnership with industry, to revolutionise water quality monitoring in Tasmania. The project will trial robust, autonomous and low-cost units that provide water quality data in real-time. Current water quality monitoring programs in Tasmania are sparse, driven by individual industries or organisations, costly, and at a low frequency that does not capture incidents, variable pollutant sources, rainfall-runoff events and bio-geochemical instream processes. The River Derwent catchment has a history of land-use change and is home to a variety of water-dependent industries such as Hydro Tasmania and the Norske Skog paper mill, making it a perfect test site.

The analyser units will be deployed at various sites within the River Derwent catchment that have flow gauges so that nutrient loads can be immediately calculated, initially at six 'high nutrient' concentration sites. The units can take measurements every 15 minutes that are sent to the Cloud for instant viewing of results, accessible from any device. It is hoped this trial will encourage and assist government and industry to adopt improved water quality monitoring and reporting practices, and ultimately lead to better protection of the Derwent River.

Funds are required to support a salary for two days per week, help procure six units, and install and maintain them over the three-year demonstration trial.   

Also awarded:

Albury Conservation Co Ltd
Applying science to on-ground action for the conservation of Albury Wodonga's threatened wildlife
$330,000 over three years

Central Victorian Biolinks Alliance Inc.
Local to Landscape: Building a new model for transformative landscape-level ecological restoration
$495,000 over three years

Tasmanian Land Conservancy Inc
Integrating citizen science and private land conservation to conserve Tasmania’s natural heritage

University of New South Wales – Centre for Ecosystem Science
Tracking ecosystems and adapting management to change
$1,218,000 over four years

Environment – Research projects

Griffith University – Cities Research Institute (CRI)
Development of sustainable biofertilisers applications to combat eutrophication
$330,000 over three years

This research project aims to develop sustainable biofertiliser applications to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture, by boosting the efficiency of nutrient delivery whilst minimising energy and water needs for production. 

Funds will be used to design biofertilisers through nutrient-rich digestate from anaerobic digestion processes and microalgae, while assessing their impact on measured water quality. If these products prove more effective than synthetic fertilisers, the research team will undertake an extensive feasibility analysis of the biofertilisers’ production and application, considering challenges such as upscaling, and benefits such as a reduction in waste, energy, irrigation water, nutrients and pollution and potential benefits for biodiversity.

This is a collaborative project with Griffith University and the University of Queensland bringing together the research strengths of the two institutions into one shared project with a single goal of developing a strong evidence base for the use of biofertilisers over their synthetic counterparts. Griffith University brings strengths in water resources management/modelling and anaerobic digestion whilst the University of Queensland brings the microalgae expertise backed by the Centre for Solar Biotechnology Pilot Plant facilities.

Also awarded:

Sydney Institute of Marine Science Foundation
The Botany Bay Project: integrating management with ecosystem ecology to ensure a sustainable future
$595,000 over three years

Impact Enhancement

Australian Network for Plant Conservation
Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia publication dissemination and promotion

Details of all Sustainable grants can be found in the Grants Database

Please note: Some multi-year grants awarded by the Foundation may be subject to certain conditions being met prior to a pending grant payment being released.