NPA plays a key role in the Stand Up For Nature Alliance to campaign to retain strong environmental protections. Under Mike Baird the NSW government passed new laws that remove controls on clearing native vegetation and which threaten to unleash a new wave of tree clearing across the state. This comes hot on the heels of the huge increase in clearing that occurred in Queensland as a result of Campbell Newman’s weakening of land clearing laws.
Why is land clearing important?
Land clearing is a Key Threatening Process on both a state and federal level, meaning it drives native species towards extinction. Australia is clearing faster than any other developed country on earth, and since European settlement 40% of forests have been cleared and much of the rest is degraded or fragmented. Australia is also the only developed country on earth that has a deforestation front.
When their habitat is cleared, animals don’t just relocate. They die. Legal clearing in NSW between 1998 and 2005 is estimated to have killed 104 million mammals, reptiles and birds. Every 100 hectares of bushland that is cleared results in the death of 1000 – 2000 birds from starvation and exposure. Animals that don’t die are displaced. In Queensland, animal rescues have doubled to over 18,000 per year since land clearing accelerated.
Most of our mammal species are currently or historically threatened by land clearing. As a result of clearing many of our most iconic animals like koalas, quolls and pygmy possums are already on the brink. We urgently need to reduce clearing, not clear more. Sadly, these new laws could be the final straw.
Impacts on farmers
The new laws were dressed up as being necessary for farmers to produce food more efficiently. Besides the fact the old Native Vegetation Act contained sufficient flexibility, not all farmers supported the new laws – and some went to extraordinary lengths to protest against them. In fact, past land clearing has made south-eastern Australia hotter and drier and made droughts longer. In the long-term this has worrying implications for food production. But restoring native vegetation in heavily cleared areas and not clearing the rest can help reverse regional climate change. The NSW Environment Protection Authority has also highlighted the importance of native vegetation to protect soils and prevent erosion, particularly in western parts of NSW. Increasing land clearing is therefore the opposite of what is needed to make sure our food production is on a sustainable footing.
A damning Lateline piece in late 2016 suggested that the changes to native vegetation laws were driven by a small minority of politically well-connected, wealthy landholders rather than in the best interests of the majority of farmers.
What can you do?
- Protecting and enhancing our pure water supplies, healthy soils, productive farmlands and the health, abundance and variety of our wildlife
- Ruling out a return to broad-scale tree clearing
- Ruling out clearing bushland critical as endangered wildlife habitat
- Paying farmers who protect wildlife, healthy soils and pure water supplies
- Ruling out offset schemes that let developers to destroy wildlife habitat in exchange for cash or dissimilar types of habitat
- Maximising carbon pollution capture and storage by native bushland, and
- Mapping all the state’s 1500 vegetation types so we can protect them properly.
Sign this quick petition for the forests, trees and animals that could disappear.
Want to know more about the detail of changes to land clearing laws? Click here.
Stand Up For Nature Alliance partners include: National Parks Association of NSW, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, WWF Australia, The Wilderness Society, The National Trust, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Total Environment Centre, Humane Society International, WIRES, Colong Foundation for Wilderness.