The Baird Government has named itself number 1 enemy of our natural environment with the release of its proposed new biodiversity protection legislation. These changes are a threat to the natural environment across NSW in both urban and regional areas.
The Government has renewed its enthusiasm for biodiversity offsets, which allow the developers of major projects to destroy threatened species habitat if they promise to protect an alternative piece of habitat. This ultimately means Councillors and communities will have less control over the protection of habitat in our Council area and across NSW. It presents a big loophole for developers who want to build on sites that are home to threatened or endangered species.
Sadly, this may not be the worst element of the proposed new laws. Baird is also seeking to repeal the Native Vegetation Act which has prevented widespread land clearing. In 2012, then-Queensland Premier Campbell Newman made similar changes north of the border. These changes saw almost 300 000 hectares of Queensland’s native vegetation cleared in a single year.
Land clearing may not sound like an obvious problem for inner city residents but in the climate change century it will have broad significance. Aside from the loss of species and unique ecological communities, land clearing also effects temperature and rainfall patterns in regional areas. Higher temperatures and less rainfall in cleared areas have the potential to increase droughts and further increase our carbon emissions.
My Greens colleague Mehreen Faruqi MLC has been a fierce critic of this backwards step. You can add your name to her open letter to the Premier on her website here: http://biodiversityislife.org/#save-our-land-clearing-protections