Nature positive

Nature positive

What does nature positive mean, why do we need it, how should it look in Australia’s national nature laws?

As it prepares to launch a revised set of national nature laws in 2024, the government is using the term ‘nature positive’ to describe how its new policy should work. But what does nature positive actually mean? And what should nature positive look like as part of a set of revised national nature laws that actually do the job of protecting nature?

What is nature positive?

Nature positive, as described by the Nature Positive Initiative—a group of 27 of the world’s largest nature conservation organisations, institutes, business and finance coalitions—means ‘halting and reversing nature loss by 2030, compared to a 2020 baseline, AND achieving full recovery of nature by 2050'.

Nature positive means not destroying nature anymore, and seeing it recover by 2030.

It requires retaining and restoring species, ecosystems, and natural processes at all scales.


Nature positive is a global initiative that will work alongside the UN Convention on Biological Diversity 's Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, an international strategy to halt the loss of nature and see it recover and flourish once more.

Why do we need a nature positive approach?

Nature is in decline. We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis—a human-induced mass extinction. Since colonisation, in Australia roughly 50% of the continent's forest and bushland have been wiped out. Australia has lost 55 wildlife species and 37 plants, and is number one in the world for mammal extinctions, with 34 mammals gone for good.

Deforestation is a driver of extinction with iconic species like the koala and greater gliders on the front lines. In Tasmania, the critically endangered swift parrot is having its habitat removed from native forest logging. In the Northern Jarrah Forests of WA, the forest is being strip-mined, destroying habitat for rare plant species and iconic fauna like the endangered black cockatoos.

Nature positive means stemming the decline of nature, reversing loss by 2030 and a full recovery by 2050. Anything less is not nature positive. Indeed, the inadequate nature laws that are in play at the moment are proving to be nature negative!

Logging truck. Image: Victoria Jack.

Labor are using the term ‘nature positive’ in the run up to its new-look nature laws. The community expects nature laws that work—delivering these laws is within Labor’s grasp. Nature positive must be more than a slogan; it means ending deforestation and fossil fuel extraction. Anything less is nature negative and nature washing.

What should a nature positive approach look like?

  • Set a 2020 baseline—this means the condition of nature as it was in 2020. This will be the comparison point from which to base future success or otherwise.

  • By 2030, nature loss must be halted and reversed (compared with what it was like in 2020).

  • There needs to be an overarching goal to fully recover nature by 2050

  • Nature positive efforts must be measurable – otherwise they are just spin and greenwashing

What needs to happen now?

We can't continue to destroy native forests while aiming to be nature positive. Image: Victoria Jack

For the Albanese government to achieve a nature positive policy in its revised national nature laws, it must meet all of the above criteria, not just cherry-pick some of them.

Nature positive means stopping fossil fuel expansion and ending deforestation – anything less is spin.