Time to comment now
Don’t we love that word ‘reform’! The NSW Government’s ‘reforms’ of native vegetation, flora, fauna, endangered species legislative protections, are upending existing rules and permissions and many people are very worried on behalf of our environment –not least because the cheapest way to combat climate change is to retain trees and vegetation.
Before continuing, note you can comment on all of this before 21 June and we encourage you to do so even though the detail is far from clear. Comment links at the end of this story.
The changes now on exhibition are said to considerably weaken existing native vegetation retention laws introduced in 2005, in favour of some levels of “self-assessment”. Massive destruction of Queensland native vegetation in just three years shows how well that can work out.
Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe told the Bulletin that the push for laxer clearing laws, that also affect threatened species like the koala and others, comes from north- west NSW and agriculturalists who want to clear remaining trees to laser-level for cropping.
“For every other landholder, it’s just creating confusion. It’s created a giant mess, [with complicated tiers of compliance and exemptions but lacking detail in the changed biodiversity legislation] and a lot of potential loopholes. The sense I get from landholders is that they get the ideological argument for less regulation and oversight, but will this become easier and clearer?”
She said the previous licensing regime for interacting with native animals was very clear. Now, the proposed tiered “risk-based” scheme allows, for example, that landholders who clear endangered species habitat can simply claim they did not know the risk.
It appears that the citizens of NSW are losing the safeguards of oversight and record-keeping on vegetation and wildlife, while gaining a clearing green light and a ‘code of practice’ for how landholders deal with some (un-named) native species and a risk-based concept that is still very fuzzy.
To please the cropping community some common birds will lose any protection. Those include swamphens, ravens, crows, cockatoos and galahs. Despite agricultural and geographic restrictions, basically no oversight or record keeping is attached.
The NSW Opposition, Greens, environmental and scientific voices are calling this a backward-looking war on the NSW environment and remaining wildlife habitat.
As bad or worse, the NSW Forestry Corporation is reported to be proposing a massive removal of protections for vulnerable species in logging country, such as protected areas for koalas, wombats, quolls and small marsupials. Wombats for example can be buried alive by logging machinery. See this ABC report.
Have a say
To access the numerous related documents and to comment, visit the Land Management website
Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms
Office of Environment and Heritage
PO Box A290
Sydney South NSW 1232
Other document links can be accessed through this story.
This fact sheet also notes proposed changes to the wildlife carer program
In the laws already passed by the Government, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, section 2.10, states that if an act to harm an animal is authorised by and in accordance with a ‘biodiversity conservation licence’, then it is permitted. (Note the tricky use of language).