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Extinction debt keeps climbing thanks to Coalition’s lax land-clearing laws

Latest figures show the NSW Government has rubber-stamped the clearing of more than 1,000 square kilometres of native vegetation in the past four years to expand pastureland. [1]   

The area of woodland that can be cleared under these approvals is about half the size of the Australian Capital Territory.  

“These tick-and-flick approvals are loading us up with an extinction debt that will be paid in blood by koalas and other wildlife,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.  

“It will also exacerbate our deforestation and extinction crisis, which is already spiralling out of control.   

“At the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year, Australia committed to end deforestation by 2030. These figures show we have no hope of meeting that commitment without a change in law.  

“The only proven carbon sequestration technology is a tree. It seems pretty obvious that we should stop ripping them down.”  

The land clearing applications recorded have been approved using the self-assessable codes that are a key feature of the Coalition’s watered-down native vegetation laws. Records of land clearing approvals under the codes have been published on the Local Land Services website. [1] 

NATIVE VEGETATION CLEARING APPROVED FOR PASTURE EXPANSION   

Code 

Certificates issued 

Hectares affected 

Part 3 Pasture Expansion  

375  

           106,646   

Source: Public Information Register – Certificates issued under section 60Y (LMC2018). Reporting Period: 09/03/2018 - 1/4/2022. Report Date: 01/04/2022.  

Mr Gambian said: “These tick-and-flick approvals are given without expert assessment — no government inspectors have been sent out to see what will be lost and assess whether it should be permitted. Landholders decide for themselves that clearing is allowed, using one of the many loopholes stitched into the new land-clearing laws.   

“The government has abdicated responsibility for controlling land clearing, outsourcing the approvals process to those profiting most from deforestation.  

“The mismanagement of land clearing in NSW has been the subject of damning reports by the Natural Resources Commission [2] and the NSW Auditor-General [3]. The government has largely ignored these and refused to implement key recommendations.  

“The government promised to review its new laws within three years. That never happened.  

“The government also promised to release regulatory maps before the new laws were switched on. That also never happened.” =

References 

[1] LLS Public Register 2022.  See also More than half a million hectares of land cleared in NSW, SMH, 22-4-22. 

[2] Land management and biodiversity conservation reforms. Final advice on a response to the policy review point, July 2019.  

[3] Managing native vegetation, NSW Auditor General, 27 June 2019 

MEDIA CONTACT: James Tremain | 0419 272 254  

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