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Precious wildlife habitat is still woefully vulnerable despite new conservation scheme

A new government scheme to protect high-conservation-value areas outside national parks is welcome but leaves thousands of hectares of wildlife habit unprotected[1] 

The government today called for nominations for Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value (AOBVs), which qualify for conservation work funding from the Biodiversity Conservation Trust. 

However, AOBV nominations will only be considered with the landholders’ consent, a significant shortcoming. 

“It is great to have clarity on how this scheme will work, but it offers no protection for vital habitat remnants if a landowner has a slash-and-burn approach to land management,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“The AOBV scheme was a key component of the Coalition’s overhaul of conservation laws in NSW, but for some reason it has taken four years to deliver and is a little underwhelming. 

“It was supposed to counterbalance the increased land clearing the Biodiversity Conservation Act was expected to trigger, but the scheme outlined today is too limited to ever do that. 

“Latest land-clearing data shows 150 hectares of wildlife habitat is bulldozed or logged every day in NSW, almost twice the average annual rate recorded before the Coalition overhauled nature laws. [2] 

“The government’s own data shows 54,500 hectares of native forest were destroyed for farming, forestry and development in 2019. 

“The truth is that even with this new scheme, wildlife and critical habitat is still woefully unprotected because the whole system relies on the goodwill of landholders. 

“While most landholders do the right thing and protect critically important bushland, a small minority do not and that’s where the government should be focusing. 

“Th AOBV scheme is entirely voluntary, so it actually offers no more protection than landholders are currently prepared to provide, although it does reward them financially for doing so.” 

References 

[1] New Protections For High Value Conservation Areas, Environment Minister Matt Kean, 23-9-21  

[2]Land cover change reporting, DPIE, June 2021  

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