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Pages tagged "Koalas"

Stokes and Liberals cave to Nationals pressure on koalas

The deal struck between the Liberals and the Nationals to minimise koala protections in rural areas will push the species to the brink.

“Excising farming and forestry zones from the koala SEPP is a catastrophic setback for the species,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“These are where most of the koalas live and where most koala habitat destruction is happening right now.

“If you remove protections from these areas, you have basically given up on the species and signed its death warrant.”

Recent research shows that logging and land-clearing on forestry and agricultural land accounts for 90% of all koala habitat destruction. [1] 

The new deal between the Liberals and the Nationals puts rural and forestry lands out of reach of the koala SEPP.  

“Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ policy of appeasement has given Nationals Leader John Barilaro everything he wanted,” Mr Gambian said.

“Big agribusiness and property developers will be popping champagne corks tonight.

“This policy makes a mockery of the government's claim it plans to double koala numbers by 2050. This policy will only serve to speed up koala extinction. 

“This is a backroom deal, where once again koalas are the big losers. 

“But the people of NSW will not cop the loss of koalas and destruction of koala habitat. We will fight this measure all the way to polling day if need be.”

References

[1] Logging 62%, land clearing 28%, Development 10% - WWF. WWF-Australia (2020), Another 37 million Australian animals could be lost next decade if the government fails to properly enforce national environment laws.

 


Government’s response to the koala crisis falls short

The NSW Government’s response [1] to the 42 recommendations of the NSW Parliament’s koala inquiry [2] is woefully inadequate, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW. 

“The government’s response is alarmingly relaxed about the looming extinction of an iconic native species,” Nature Conservation Council Acting Chief Executive Jacqui Mumford said.

“There is nothing new in the government’s response, which just rehashes policies that have already patently failed to deliver the protection our koalas need.

“Basically the government response says ‘relax, we’ve got it covered – no need to do more’.

“But koalas are more at risk now than they were late last year because the National Party has torn down the koala SEPP and the obliteration of koala habitat continues.

“Any response that does not stop the destruction of koala habitat for agriculture, logging and urban development falls catastrophically short of what’s required.

“Several studies have warned that koalas will be extinct by 2050 without urgent action - we have a duty to ensure that does not happen.”

An adequate response would include:

  • Implementing a strong, effective koala planning policy 
  • Committing to the creation of the Great Koala National Park proposal
  • Ending native forest logging
  • Ending the clearing of koala habitat for agriculture, urban development 

REFERENCES

[1] Government response.  

[2] Report of the Legislative Council committee on Koala populations and habitat in New South Wales.


25m clearing code must protect koalas and other threatened species

The code to operationalise the government’s new 25m land clearing law must protect threatened species habitat and be based on science and expert opinion, not political spin.

“The 25m clearing law the government pushed through parliament last month was a reckless piece of legislation that does nothing to protect against bushfires but does pose a significant risk for endangered species,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“Neither the NSW Bushfire Inquiry nor the Royal Commission recommend land clearing on property boundaries as a valid response to the Black Summer fires, but politicians in the government thought they knew better.

“Now we are stuck with a bad law that could do tremendous harm to the environment.

“The codes are our last chance to get the balance right. The codes will guide how the law is implemented and can be drafted to ensure threatened species and their habitat are protected.”

It is believed the government may introduce its Rural Boundary Clearing Code before the end of the year.

The Nature Conservation Council has written to key ministers detailing minimum environmental standards the code must meet. The code must:

  • Exclude areas of koala and other threatened species habitat.
  • Exclude bushland of outstanding environmental value.*
  • Apply only to mapped bushfire-prone lands the Rural Fire Service has identified as a serious risk.
  • Exclude areas of Aboriginal and other cultural heritage.*
  • Include a monitoring framework to measure impacts. 

“The code will mean the difference between survival and extinction for koalas and other threatened species in some parts of the state, so it is vital that the government gets this right,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

* See the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code.

REFERENCES

[1] Government split over bushfire land clearing rules, SMH, 11/12/20

 

 

 

 


Cusack saves the day, but koalas still at risk

The conservation movement applauds Liberal MLC ⁦⁦Catherine Cusack’s principled decision to block the National Party’s Local Land Services Amendment Bill in the upper house last night.

“Congratulations and thank you to Liberal MLC ⁦⁦Catherine Cusack for risking so much to protect koalas and push back against the the National Party’s radical land-clearing agenda,”  said Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian. [1]

“Ms Cusack’s principled stand displayed rare integrity and courage and has come at some personal cost. 

“It is far better to go back to the drawing board on koala laws than to accept the Nationals’ koala-killing bill.

“But already the decision to revert to the old koala planning arrangements shows that the battle to protect NSW koalas is far from over.

“The furore over the new planning policy is an ideological obsession and not grounded in an actual problem.

“Weakening koala protections is at odds with the government’s stated aim of doubling koala numbers by 2050.

“This is a significant setback for koala conservation, but it is better to pause now and get the settings right than to lock in koala habitat destruction for decades to come, which is what the National’s bill would have done.

“Even before the bushfires, koala’s were on track to become extinct in the wild by 2050 without urgent action. Then the fires wiped out about 30 per cent of the population in some areas. 

“The government must now come up with new laws that put the survival of the species ahead of commercial interests of big agribusiness and other property developers.”

REFERENCES

[1] Koala policy reversed after Liberal MP votes against bill, gets sacked, SMH, 20-11-20


Nationals try to hoodwink Liberals on koala peace plan

Liberal MPs are starting to see through the Nationals’ deception about the changes to koala protections in NSW.

At least one upper house Liberal has threatened to vote against the National’s Local Land Services Amendment Bill after realising it would prevent any more core koala habitat on private land being protected from logging and land clearing. [1]

Two-thirds of koala habitat is on private land, not in national parks, [2] and only 7 per cent of relevant council areas have koala plans of management in place. [3]

“The bill the Nationals are trying to sneak through the parliament would freeze koala protections on rural land at today’s disastrously low levels,” Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Brad Smith said.

“This bill is a death warrant for all koalas that don’t live in protected forests. It was quietly rushed through the lower house and is now being considered by the upper house. 

“If the bill passes, it will make the government’s stated aim of doubling koala numbers by 2050 impossible. [4]

“Even before the bushfires, koala’s were on track to become extinct in the wild by 2050 without urgent action. Then the fires wiped out about 30 per cent of the population in some areas. 

“The species needs our urgent help, and the government’s Koala SEPP represented a small but positive step in that direction.

“But the National Party bill will basically stop the Koala SEPP ever applying to rural land if it doesn’t already do so.

“The LLS Amendment Bill is a disaster for koalas — much worse than Liberal MPs have been led to believe by their Coalition partners — and should not become law.”

The Bill has already passed the lower house and is due to be debated in the upper house within days.

“We call on all Liberal MPs in the upper house to block this bill,” Dr Smith said. 

“The bill is a cheap trick that is not in keeping with the peace deal struck between the Coalition parties last month.”

REFERENCES 

[1] Channel 7 News, Tuesday, November 10, 2020 

[2] Koala populations and habitat in New South Wales, NSW Upper House Inquiry, 2020. Page 16.

[3] Koala Habitat Protection SEPP - NSW Government

[4]  Matt Kean aims to double koala population by 2050, SMH, 26-6-2020 

 


Thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat threatened by government’s 25m clearing proposal

The NSW Government is pushing through changes to the Rural Fires Act that will lead to a 50m strip of bushland destruction around thousands of properties across the state.

WWF-Australia has estimated the changes put thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat at risk, including 12,000 hectares of high-quality koala habitat in just four local government areas they examined. [1] 

“These changes are not necessary, they won’t reduce bushfire risk but they will trash thousands of hectares of prime wildlife habitat,” Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Brad Smith said.

“The government wants to let landholders clear 25m strips of bushland on their side of the fence without independent environmental assessment of the impacts. 

“That potentially amounts to a 50m strip of bushland destruction around thousands of properties across NSW and the loss of thousands of hectares of vital wildlife habitat, including koala forests.

“This measure is driven by ideology and it is not supported by science or expert opinion.

“These measures were not recommended by the Independent Bushfire Inquiry for a very good reason — they won’t reduce bushfire risk in extreme conditions but they will cause untold environmental damage.

“This is more about unfettered land clearing than bushfire risk management and should be removed from the bill.”

Dr Smith said the Nature Conservation Council supports all the recommendations of the bushfire inquiry and applauds the government for committing to implementing them, but the 25m clearing change was not one of them.

The changes to the Rural Fires Act are included in Bushfires Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 introduced to parliament by Emergency Services Minister David Elliott this week. 

References

[1] Bush and koalas found to be threatened by 'gratuitous' NSW land-clearing plan, The Guardian, 26 October 2020. 

 


NSW Lower House moves koalas a step closer to extinction

The Coalition government’s Local Land Services Amendment Bill endangers koalas and scuppers any hope the government will achieve its goal of doubling koala populations by 2050.

The bill passed the NSW lower house yesterday and is scheduled to be debated in the Legislative Council in November. 

“If this bill passes, developers and big agribusiness will be free to destroy koala habitat in nine out of 10 council areas across NSW where koalas are likely to occur,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“The bill not only limits koala protection laws to a tiny portion of the state, it rules out ever extending those protections into new areas where they are desperately needed.

“If passed by members of the upper house, this law will allow property developers to bulldoze koala trees and subdivide some of the best koala forests left in NSW to create hobby farms and suburbs.

“Just weeks ago Liberal MPs and the Premier stared down Deputy Premier Barilaro over koala protections. 

“To now vote for a massive weakening of the laws is a disappointing back down.

“Currently, the koala SEPP only applies in six of the 88 council areas where koalas are likely to occur.

“The changes mean genuine efforts to protect koalas on private land will be limited to those areas.

“The government needs to urgently tell the people of NSW how it will ensure koala feed trees and habitat will not be lost because of a careless lack of regulation of land clearing.

“We call on members of the Legislative Council reject this bill so our koalas have a fighting chance of living beyond 2050.”

 


Barilaro tantrum rewarded: Koalas lose out to property developers

The Nature Conservation Council calls on all state MPs to vote down a bill before the NSW Parliament that would exempt big agribusiness and property developers from koala protection laws in many circumstances.

The government’s Local Land Services Amendment Bill, which will be voted on this week, would prevent any further expansion of koala habitat protections into private farmland.

The bill is part of a deal between the Liberal and National parties to end an internal quarrel over koala protections that threatened the survival of the Coalition and the stability of the Berejiklian government.

“Nothing in this Bill helps ensure koalas survive beyond 2050.  But it does mean property developers could bulldoze koala trees without needing an approval to do so,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“Basically the Nationals gave the Liberals a choice between saving the Coalition or saving the koala and they chose themselves. 

“Let’s be clear. The bill before NSW parliament has nothing to do with legitimate farming issues or private forestry issues. There has been a Koala SEPP in place for years.

“We accept that we need to support farmers who have the care of important bush. For example, Councils should be funded to develop high quality Koala Plans of Management, and small family farms should have the cost of surveys covered by the State.

“The answer is not trashing the Koala regulations. 

“The National Party signed off on the SEPP last year.  No one raised an eyebrow. All NSW MPs should distance themselves from this nonsense. 

“The people of NSW want to see a shared plan for how we live in balance with nature - protecting species and natural heritage whilst carefully using the natural resources nature has provided us with.

“This is a time for leadership, not political expediency.”


Government should pay for koala surveys and plans of management

The Nature Conservation Council calls on the NSW Government to reimburse small landholders the cost of pre-development koala surveys and to fund local councils to formulate koala plans of management.

“We all want to save koalas from extinction so it makes sense for the government to support all practical measures that will protect them,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“The conservation movement stands ready to sit down with farmers in good faith and work through any issues they have with the provisions of the Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Planning Policy. [1]

“We know the overwhelming majority of farmers care deeply about the land, bushland and wildlife in their care.

“Reimbursing the costs of pre-development koala surveys for small landholders is a very practical way the government can help landholders play their part in conserving koalas for future generations.

“We have said from the start that the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy falls short of what’s required, but it is an improvement and should be retained.” [2]

Mr Gambian said another practical measure the government should take is to give local councils the resources they need to complete koala plans of management.

“One of the failings of the current system is that only six of the almost 90 councils with koalas have completed koala plans of management,” he said.

“Part of the problem is that some councils are hostile to koala conservation. Others simply lack the resources to create the plan.

“If the NSW Government is serious about koala conservation, it should make the development of koala plans of management mandatory for all identified regions and ensure all councils have the resources they need to implement them.

“The cost of KPOMs varies but are in the order of $150,000. The government could facilitate the development of KPOMs for the whole state for a little more than $12 million.”

[1] State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019

[2] Tinkering with the koala SEPP will not save the species, Nature Conservation Council, December 2019 

 


Chris Gulaptis MP and the Nationals declare war on koalas

Clarence National Party MP Chris Gulaptis has opened a new front in the National Party’s war on koalas and conservation by demanding the new laws designed to prevent the species’ extinction be scrapped. [1] 

“On current trends, koalas are on track to become extinct in NSW by 2050,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Chris Gambian said.

“The laws that Mr Gulaptis wants to tear up were drafted well before the summer bushfires, which killed thousands, wiped out local populations and pushed many others closer to extinction. 

“If anything, the government should be considering strengthening laws to protect this iconic species.”

Mr Gambian said Mr Gulaptis’s threat to sit on the cross benches if the government didn’t scrap koala protections was the latest in a series of attacks by National MPs on koalas.

“Nationals Leader John Barilaro has aggressively pushed to continue logging koala forests after the bushfires destroyed millions of hectares of prime habitat,” Mr Gambian said.

“Several forests on the north coast that were among the last unburned koalas forests in the state have been targeted by Forestry Corporation for intensive logging with the state government’s blessing.

“The Nationals are also behind moves to slash and burn national parks and allow cows to trample conservation reserves.

“If we want our children and grandchildren to see koalas in the wild, we have to stop destroying their forests. 

“If Mr Gulaptis and John Barilaro get their way, the demise of the koala is guaranteed to happen even faster than projected.”

[1] We can’t bear this nationals’ revolt, Daily Telegraph, 2-9-20