The Baird Coalition Government has squandered an historic opportunity to forge a new regime of conservation laws to address the many threats that face our wildlife, bushland, soils, water supplies and climate. It is well established that land clearing is a significant driver of species extinctions, soil and water degradation and greenhouse gas emissions, and new evidence of the dire threats to these vital resources is reported with increasing frequency.
In March, the government’s State of the Environment Report 2015 advised that a record 999 plant and animal species now face extinction in NSW.
Without urgent action, almost 60 per cent of all our native mammals, including koalas and gliders, are on the path to extinction.
Last year was the hottest on record, and temperature records this year have continued to tumble.
We are already experiencing the harmful effects of climate change in NSW, and yet Mr Baird’s Biodiversity Conservation Bill fails to address the need to reduce carbon emissions from land clearing and adapt to a changing climate.
Our lawmakers have a responsibility to increase protections for these vital resources to ensure they survive the stresses that are continuing to mount.
Regrettably, the Baird government has fallen well short of meeting this challenge.
Rather than alleviating these threats, the government’s proposals will add pressures to natural systems already crumbling under the pressure of human impacts. Mr Baird’s proposals will reduce overall bushland and tree coverage, which will inevitably result in a loss of biodiversity.
While the government has made some commitment to increase investment in conservation on private land, there will still be a net loss of biodiversity and native bush coverage.
We appeal to Premier Baird and reasonable men and women in his government to withdraw this flawed Bill and develop a system of conservation laws that will ensure our wildlife, bushland, soils, water supplies and climate are restored to health and can meet the physical, cultural and spiritual needs of future generations.
To achieve this, we need laws that:
- Protect and enhance the health and variety of our wildlife, protect water supplies and ensure healthy soils and productive farmlands
- Ensure no return to broad-scale land clearing by retaining clearing controls
- Support farmers who protect wildlife, healthy soils and pure water supplies in return for maintaining strong vegetation laws
- Identify and rule out clearing bushland that is critical as habitat for threatened wildlife
- Rule out offset schemes that allow developers to destroy wildlife habitat in exchange for cash or dissimilar types of habitat
- Use tree-clearing controls to maximize the amount of carbon pollution captured and retained by native bushland, and
- Require comprehensive and accurate mapping of the state's 1500 vegetation communities so we know exactly where they are and can protect them properly.
James Tremain, 0419 272 254