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Every day, we are creating our future. Although our environment and climate are facing challenges, there are many ways Australians are taking action to create a more healthy, safe, fair and affordable way forward.
Explore the benefits of sustainable living in the Future Now pop-up exhibition created by the Australian Museum.
Whether you’re looking for small changes to make in your own home or want to be inspired by larger-than-life solutions, we will show you that there is plenty of hope and potential for tackling climate change in our communities.
We're seeing healthier soil, more diversity in our plants, clean running water, less erosion, more groundcover, more wildlife. By having healthy soil, we'll have healthy plants. And then we will have healthy animals. And we'll have healthy people. Because we're providing a nutrient dense product. I'm definitely one of many farmers following regenerative practices in Australia. My vision for the future of agriculture is that regenerative farming practices becomes the norm in Australia and across the world.
I would like consumers to know the power they have to create change by choosing products that support regenerative agriculture. To me, soils are the essence of everything and they're the life of the whole planet. Regenerative Ag. is more like that umbrella and under which sits movements and practices that go to healing the soil and the environment. I do think it's now people who have the ability with insight to change how we've managed soils and treated the planet. It's a privilege to think that we are able to grow food for the nation and society. What we've found that really worked here on Milgadara is understanding our soils. We've been able to transform the soils, the ecosystem, the biodiversity of everything, the capacity of the soil to restore itself and the whole environment to restore itself is immense, if we give it the opportunity.
Well, we're on Bidjigal country and I'm a Bidjigal person. So where we are now is what I would consider my Country, our part of land. The land, the environment around us, and everything that exists makes up Country. Plants are a huge part of that. The bush foods, the medicines, the stories that go with them. And, you know, some of those old people that come here and tell us stories of some of the plants that we grow here, that's all part of Country. We run a nursery, but underpinning running a nursery is Culture. And we want to provide an opportunity and employ our young people, but give them opportunities to learn cultural knowledge around our local plants.
Caring for Country is a huge part of what we're about here, what we what we do here at IndigiGrow, and sustainability has been passed down for thousands of years - through our old people, through stories, etc. Caring for Country is not just an Aboriginal thing. Caring for Country is everyone's responsibility. Our plants and landscape might be critically endangered but it doesn't mean we can't do nothing about it. We can do lots. And for one, you know, we can plant our local endemic species. By planting local native plants, we're creating the future now. Seaweed is amazing. It can improve the health of Australians, the health of our oceans and the health of our planet.
I'm Jo. I've got a background in marine science and now I'm the owner of Sea Health Products. We hand harvest kelp from local south coast beaches and create a range of health and wellness products. Kelp seasonings, seaweed soaps and shampoos, and cosmetics. And it has so many health benefits, it's really good for you. So kelp farming's also referred to as regenerative aquaculture, restorative farming, because we collect the plants, bring it back to the lab. We can seed our farm but we can also get involved in restoration work and rehabilitating our kelp forests, which is so important for our oceans. By introducing kelp farming We can explore all these new markets. We can create building materials, we can create furniture, we can explore new types of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals. So kelp farming has so many benefits for ocean health. It creates habitat, improves biodiversity, reduces ocean acidification. It sequesters carbon dioxide, and it can provide a buffer to protect our shorelines from erosion. So we're growing the future now.
Understanding our world
A warming world
Australia is warming up, making weather more extreme. This is not a natural cycle. To tackle this problem, a rapidly growing number of people across Australia are switching to clean energy and transport and helping protect nature.
Wetlands can soak up greenhouse gases better than most forests, helping slow the warming of our planet.
Trees are homes for animals, birds and insects. They clean and cool the air and provide us with oxygen. They keep water, nutrient and carbon cycles working.
The right fire at the right time
Home-grown food is tasty, full of nutrients and needs no packaging. Chickens and ducks are great for eggs and roasts, plus they eat fallen fruit, keeping pests away.
➔ Kids, have you tried planting your favourite fruits in pots or in a garden?
Bees, bugs, bats and birds are the pollinators of our farms, gardens and forests. We need them to keep plants fruiting and multiplying. Avoid insecticides!
Farming with nature
“The closer I work with nature ... the easier it becomes, and the more profitable it becomes ... there’s a lot less risk, and certainly a lot less work.” - Colin Seis, NSW farmer
➔ Read stories from farmers regenerating their farms here.
A sustainable farm
These farmers grow lots of high quality food without using agricultural chemicals or ploughing. They have built up rich soils with manure from grazing animals and multi-species crops. Rich soil retains water and resists pests and disease.
Livestock are grazed in a paddock for a short time before being moved to the next. This keeps the plant cover in place and protects the soil.
Many farmers around Australia are capturing wind and solar energy as well as growing food. Selling electricity brings income even during droughts and floods.
Healthy soil builds healthy humans
Can you see the soil below this farm? It is full of life, nutrients and carbon. The farmers are adding organic matter and avoiding toxic chemicals. Healthy soil is central to our food production system.
We need to protect native areas for wildlife to thrive. We need a rich variety of plants, animals, fungi and tiny micro-organisms to keep us thriving. Healthy ecosystems provide us with food, shelter, clean air and clean water.
Forests for life
Forests are home to the majority of the world’s land species. Many medicines and useful materials are found in forests. They keep the water cycle working, absorb excess carbon and help keep us cool.
Fishing with Country
First Nations communities have practised sustainable fishing as part of long-term cultural practice, using fishing technologies such as woven and stone traps.
Seaweed: stopping cow burps!
Farmers and researchers have found that feeding cows and sheep a little bit of a red Australian seaweed changes their digestion. They grow better and almost stop burping methane – a very damaging greenhouse gas.
➔ You can reduce air pollution and protect Earth, our home, by planting plants and switching to renewable energy and clean transport.
Cleaning our air
Land plants, seaweed and other algae soak up carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, and give us fresh oxygen. Over half of the oxygen we breathe comes from ocean algae.
There are new seaweed farms off Australia’s coast. Seaweed boosts the health of oceans and people. Seaweed grows rapidly and is particularly good at converting CO2 to oxygen.
This graphic illustrates the cut-away model of the wave energy generator at King Island. As waves surge in and out of the ‘mechanical blowhole’, each gust of air turns a turbine, creating electricity.
Caring for mangroves, protecting coastlines
Replanting vegetation in mangrove swamps and sand dunes helps protect our coasts from flooding and erosion.
Protecting underwater forests
Australian kelp forests and seagrass meadows, rich in marine life and exceptionally good at capturing carbon, have been disappearing because of pollution and warming waters. Restoration projects are having some success.
➔ Check out the amazing work of Operation Crayweed and sponsor an underwater tree.
Ocean-friendly boating and fishing
Biodegradable fishing nets and fishing line reduce marine animal deaths from entanglement. Nets with lit-up escape holes for small fish support ocean populations. Boat owners can use eco-friendly antifouling paint.
➔ Boat-owners can protect important seagrass meadows by using a raised, environmentally friendly mooring.
Solar power is the cheapest source of electricity. With a battery, there’s power even when the sun isn’t shining. The renewable energy industry employs a large and an increasing number of workers.
Water for all
Instead of drawing from watercourses, using tanks and increasing organic matter in the soil helps farms and ecosystems to cope with dry times.
➔ Do you have a rainwater tank yet? They let you save on water bills and manage during droughts.
Clean energy vehicles
Utes, trucks and tractors can be charged for free from solar batteries or green hydrogen fuel cells. This improves air quality and helps stabilise our climate. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and need fewer repairs.
➔ Did you know there are Australian mechanics converting petrol vehicles to electric?
Carbon is an element that cycles through living things, the air, soil and water. Humans have upset the carbon cycle’s balance by burning fossil fuels and farming unsustainably. This imbalance is causing global warming and extreme weather. Sustainable farming helps by looking after soils and forests, pulling atmospheric carbon back into the soil.
Some farmers are including native plants better suited to our drier climate in their crops. Introduced crops like rice and cotton are very water-hungry, leaving less for our river ecosystems.
➔ Landowners can earn money for the tonnes of carbon captured in their soil, trees and biodiversity over time (through the Carbon Farming Initiative).