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National Parks slams Baird for opening door to land clearing

The Baird government has finally introduced its controversial land clearing legislation in Parliament despite almost uniform opposition from scientists and environment groups and a significant proportion of farmers.

[But] The bucket of money that Mike Baird will pour into private land conservation won’t be enough to stem the loss of biodiversity against a background of increased habitat loss—and isn’t a good use of public money says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).

NPA CEO Kevin Evans said in a press statement:

“The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has labelled the $240 million earmarked for private land conservation as a subsidy to clear land.

“This is because the original intention of the review panel, as recently articulated by Professor Hugh Possingham, was that there would be no return to broad scale land clearing, but that an increase in private land conservation funding would help landholders manage bushland on their properties.

“Instead there will be scant control on clearing, and public money will be poured down the drain.

“If the government were to pay market value to protect land, the $240 million would only buy 150,000 hectares on 2015 prices. We can be pretty confident, that given the breadth of the codes, this won’t come close to compensating for habitat lost by clearing.

NPA Senior Ecologist, Dr Oisín Sweeney said: “We know that land clearing is the number one threat to native species in NSW. “The $100 million Saving our Species (SOS) funding that the government is so fond of referring to is not a magic wand to ward off extinctions.

“You can’t pay an animal to go somewhere else, somewhere more convenient: money just doesn’t matter if you’re clearing habitat that animals need to survive.

“Protecting habitat protects species. Clearing habitat kills animals and drives species decline. Even a banker should be able to understand that.”

Professor Possingham formally quit the panel in early November claiming his advice had been ignored and the panel’s recommendations weren’t being implemented. See Sydney Morning Herald story.

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