Skip navigation

Pages tagged "landclearing"

150 hectares of habitat lost each day in NSW

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 in 2016. [1] 

The annual Statewide Land and Tree Study (SLATS) data shows 54,500 hectares of native forest were destroyed for farming, forestry and development in 2019. 

“This astounding rate of deforestation is a disaster for wildlife and the climate. We call on the government to take urgent action to reverse the trend,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.   

“In just one year we have lost an area of forest four times the size of Royal National Park. It is simply unsustainable. 

“Using widely accepted data on wildlife population densities, clearing on that scale would have killed up to 9 million animals - mammals, birds and reptiles – in just 12 months. [2] 

“After the government weakened land clearing laws in 2016, deforestation rates doubled and have remained at these dangerously high levels ever since. 

“The Coalition promised its new laws would enhance protections for bushland and wildlife.  

“These figures, and the rising number of threatened species, shows the laws completely fail to deliver on that promise. 

“More than 1,020 plants and animals are now threatened with extinction in NSW, about 20 more than when the scheme was introduced. 

“The 74% of clearing is designated as ‘unexplained’ in this report shows the government has lost control of deforestation in NSW.  

“We welcomed the government establishing new national parks over the past year, but the national parks system covers less than 10% of the state.

“The government must stop uncontrolled deforestation on private land and in state forests if it is going to tackle the extinction crisis.” 

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


Biodiversity offsetting should only be used as a last resort and adhere to international best practice

25 June 2021 

Biodiversity offsetting should only be used as a last resort and adhere to international best practice 

The conservation movement welcomes the inquiry into the NSW biodiversity offsetting scheme announced by the Legislative Council’s Environment and Planning Committee. 

“There have been serious concerns about the government’s new biodiversity offsets scheme since it was introduced as part of its suit of weakened land-clearing and nature laws in 2017,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“Biodiversity offsets underpin the whole system of new nature laws the Coalition said had found the sweet spot enabling development and the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat. 

“But the evidence suggests otherwise. More than 1,020 plants and animals are now threatened with extinction in NSW, about 20 more than when the scheme was introduced. 

“Clearly, something is not working and the public has a right to know what’s gone wrong. 

“Essentially, the scheme treats nature like a Magic Pudding that developers can keep eating forever if they throw enough cash into a tin. 

“The offsets system has been designed so the government never has to say no to developers.  

“It reduces nature to a bunch of financial formulas that can never capture the true value of our unique and rapidly disappearing wildlife and bushland.” 

In addition to concerns about declining biodiversity, recent reports by The Guardian Australia of massive windfall profits by companies playing the offsets market have raised many questions about the probity of the system. [1] 

The Nature Conservation Council in April wrote to ICAC asking it to look into the sale of biodiversity offset credits in relation to major roadworks in Western Sydney detailed in the Guardian articles.  

ICAC, in accordance with its normal operating procedures, has not indicated whether it has initiated an investigation.   

“The problem with commodifying natural assets like water and biodiversity is they inevitably become prey to speculative investors rather than being managed and protected in the public interest,” Mr Gambian said.  

“We believe the whole system of offsetting must be urgently reviewed to ensure it does what it says on the tin -- protects threatened wildlife and bushland in a rigorous and transparent way.”  

TERMS OF REFERENCE  

Motion passed by the Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No. 7 Environment and Planning on June 24, 2021:   

  1. That Portfolio Committee No. 7 Environment and Planning inquiry into and report on the integrity of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Scheme, and in particular: 
    1. The effectiveness of the scheme to halt or reverse the loss of biodiversity values, including threatened species and threatened habitat in NSW, the role of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust in administering the scheme and whether the Trust is subject to adequate transparency and oversight; 
    2. The adequacy of the use of offsets by the NSW Government for major projects and strategic approvals; 
    3. The impact of non-additional offsetting practices on biodiversity outcomes, offset prices and the opportunity for private landholders to engage in the scheme; and  
    4. Any other related matters. 
    5. That the committee report by March 1, 2021. 

REFERENCES 

[1] It's an ecological wasteland': offsets for Sydney toll road were promised but never delivered, Lisa Cox, Guardian Australia, 17-2-21 

'Development should stop': serious flaws in offsets plan for new western Sydney airport, Lisa Cox, Guardian Australia, 10-2-21