Showing posts with label forests. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forests. Show all posts

Monday, 14 May 2018

Here we are on the NSW North Coast living amid remnants of the splendor that was Australia in 1788.....


....and it is fading and dying before our very eyes, while the Turnbull Coalition Government follows in the footsteps of the Abbott Coalition Government by turning its back on us and our concerns.

North Coast Environment Council, media release, 7 May 2018:


… SCIENTISTS ARE THE NEXT CASUALTIES …

Malcolm Turnbull's Government has launched yet another offensive on the environment, with the announcement it was sacking dozens of scientists.

“The rivers of cash that the government has to splash around don't extend to environmental protection,” said Susie Russell, North Coast Environment Council Vice-President.

“This will have a significant impact on north coast forests. We have been relying on the Recovery Planning process to guarantee some protection for nationally endangered species. Only last month, NCEC was a signatory (with NEFA, the National Parks Association and the South East Region Conservation Alliance) to a letter to federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. We pleaded for Canberra to take its environmental responsibilities seriously. We pointed out that the NSW Government was not abiding by Federal Recovery Plans for threatened species.


The Greater Glider is one of the species where a Recovery Plan is required, but nothing gets produced.
Photo by Jasmine Zeleny.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

A brief respite in the NSW Berejiklian Government's war on the natural world


"Clearing under the Code may threaten the viability of certain threatened species at property and local landscape scale. The risk highest in overcleared landscapes where most clearing is likely to occur under the Code." [NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, "Concurrene on Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code", August 2017, p. 3]

Sometime in 2017 a document was prepared for the NSW Minister for Environment & Heritage and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton to sign in order for increased clearing of native vegetation across New South Wales to occur.

This new land clearing policy came into effect in August of that year but faced a legal challenge.

The Coffs Coast Advocate, 9 March 2018:

THE Land and Environment Court has delivered a massive blow to the NSW Government by ruling its land clearing laws invalid because they were made unlawfully.

The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) launched a legal challenge to the codes last November arguing Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair failed to obtain concurrence from Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton before making the codes, as is required by law.

This morning the government conceded this was the case and NCC chief executive Kate Smolski was was quick to pounce.

"Today's ruling is an embarrassing admission of failure by the government and a great victory for the rule of law and the thousands of people who have supported us in taking this action,” she said.

"It is deeply troubling that the government disregarded the important oversight role of the Environment Minister when making environmental laws but we are even more concerned about the harmful content of the laws themselves.

"By the government's own assessment they will lead to a spike in clearing of up to 45 per cent and expose threatened wildlife habitat to destruction including 99 per cent of identified koala habitat on private land.

"Premier Berejiklian must act now to prevent further plundering of our forests, woodlands and water supplies by scrapping these laws and making new ones that actually protect the environment.”…..

The NSW Government is yet to issue a statement on the decision.


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Nature Conservation Council (NCC)

Media Release, 9 March 2017:


Court finds NSW Government land-clearing laws invalid

The Land and Environment Court today ruled the NSW Government’s land-clearing laws invalid because they were made unlawfully.

“The government has bungled the introduction of one of its signature pieces of legislation, and in the process demonstrates its careless disregard for nature in NSW,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“Today’s ruling is an embarrassing admission of failure by the Berejiklian government and a great victory for the rule of law and the thousands of people who have supported us in taking this action.”

The Nature Conservation Council, represented by public interest environmental lawyers EDO NSW, launched legal challenge against the government’s land-clearing codes last November.

NCC had argued through its barristers Jeremy Kirk SC and David Hume the codes were invalid because the Primary Industries Minister failed to obtain concurrence of the Environment Minister before making the codes, as is required by law. The government today has conceded this was indeed the case.

“It is deeply troubling that the government disregarded the important oversight role of the Environment Minister when making environmental laws, but we are even more concerned about the harmful content of the laws themselves,” Ms Smolski said.
“By the government’s own assessment, they will lead to a spike in clearing of up to 45% and expose threaten wildlife habitat to destruction, including 99% of identified koala habitat on private land.

“These laws were made against the advice of the scientific community and against the wishes of the vast majority of the many thousands of people who made submissions.

“It would be completely cynical for the government to immediately remake these laws without first correcting their many flaws and including environmental protections the community wants and the science says we need.

“Premier Berejiklian must act now to prevent further plundering of our forests, woodlands and water supplies by scrapping these laws and making new ones that actually protect the environment.”

Ms Smolski pledged to continue the campaign to overturn weak land-clearing laws.
“As the state’s peak environment organization, we will do everything we can to expose the damage of land clearing and will not stop until we have laws that protect nature,” she said.

“These laws are a matter of life or death for wildlife. More than 1000 plant and animal species are at risk of extinction in this state, including the koala and 60 per cent of all our native mammals.

“Land clearing is the main threat to many of these animals, and the laws this government introduced unlawfully are pushing them closer to the brink.


“It is regrettable that we had to take the government to court to make it abide by its own laws, but it demonstrates the critical role organisations like ours play in our democracy.”

Media Release, 2 March 2018:

Environment Minister knew 99% of koala habitat would be exposed to land clearing by contentious new laws, FIO document shows

A document obtained under freedom of information laws shows the Berejiklian government knew its new land clearing laws would cause extensive harm to wildlife habitat but pressed ahead with the changes anyway.

“This is damning evidence that the Environment Minister approved these new laws knowing they would expose 99% of identified koala habitat on private land to clearing,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“The document also shows the Minister was warned the laws could cause a 45% spike in land clearing and that they would mostly benefit very large agribusinesses that could clear land on a massive scale, not smaller enterprises and farming communities across the state.

“It shows what we have suspected all along – environment policy in NSW is being dictated by the National Party and the powerful agribusiness interests the party represents.

“Minister Upton knew these laws were very bad for threatened species and bushland, yet she approved them anyway. This is a disgrace.”

The document, obtained by EDO NSW for the Nature Conservation Council, was prepared by the Office of Environment and Heritage for the Environment Minister and outlined the consequences of Ms Upton agreeing to land-clearing codes proposed by Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.

Key warnings in the document include:

* “The regulatory changes will further increase agricultural clearing by between 8% and 45% annually.” (Page 3)
* Clearing under the code risks: “Removing key habitat for threatened species, including koala habitat (less than 1% of identified koala habitat in NSW is protected from clearing under the Code)” and “Increasing vulnerability of threatened ecological communities”. (Page 6)
* If unchecked “such clearing could destroy habitats, cause soil and water quality impacts”. (Page 5)
* “The main benefits are likely to be private benefits for large farming operations which broadscale clear under the Code.” (Page 6)

“These are terrible laws that put our wildlife at risk,” Ms Smolski said. “Premier Berejiklian should act immediately to protect the thousands of hectares of koala habitat at risk by exempting sensitive areas from code-based clearing. “In the longer term, she should go back to the drawing board and draft new laws that protect our precious wildlife and bushland.”

Download the FOI document here


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Snapshots from NSW Office of Environment & Heritage"Concurrence on Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code", August 2017:




UPDATE

The respite ended before it really began………

The Guardian, 11 March 2018:

But the government made no delay remaking the laws, announcing on Saturday it had been completed.
“The remade code is identical to the previous one and is an integral part of the new land management framework which gives landowners the tools and certainty they need,” said David Witherdin, the CEO of Local Land Services, which oversees clearing under the codes.
The move was condemned by the NCC.

Sometimes it’s hard not to despair when faced with evidence of the wilful, destructive ignorance of Liberal and Nationals politicians


The Guardian, 5 March 2018:

Attempts by the federal government to stop potentially unlawful clearing in Queensland were reversed after political intervention, with a highly unusual apology letter sent to every landholder suspected of planning unlawful clearing at the direct request of the minister, documents obtained by the Guardian under FOI laws reveal.

In December 2015 and January 2016, the federal department of environment took the exceptional step of asking 51 landholders with approval from the Queensland government to clear their land, to explain why the clearing wasn’t unlawful under federal environmental law.

But within two months, the department issued the unusual apology letter to every recipient of the initial letter, Guardian Australia can reveal.

In the letter Shane Gaddes, then assistant secretary for the environment standards division, said the department “deeply” regretted any distress caused, backflipped on demands for information, and indicated the letter wasn’t part of any compliance action, but rather an attempt to help the landholders avoid legal action by activists.

Internal correspondence obtained by Guardian Australia shows the apology letter was motivated by lobbying from National and Liberal MPs from Queensland electorates, as well as the pro-land clearing lobby group Property Rights Australia.

More land is cleared of trees in Queensland than the rest of the country combined – with the latest figures showing 395,000 hectares were cleared in a single year – amounting to about a football stadium of clearing every three minutes.

Clearing skyrocketed in Queensland after the former Liberal National party government under the premier Campbell Newman broke an election promise and scrapped clearing controls, introducing several ways for farmers to more easily clear trees.

But regardless of state approvals, if a development is likely to impact a “matter of national environmental significance”, then it must also be approved by the federal government under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Matters of national environmental significance include important populations of threatened species, the Great Barrier Reef and some migratory species.

In the initial letter the federal department of environment said it had examined the proposal and concluded that it “may be necessary” for the 51 landholders to seek formal approval under federal laws. The distribution of the letter sparked outrage among landholders.

The Queensland Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan said at the time that “activist public servants” were “looking for ways to circumvent the intentions” of Queensland and federal governments…..

The then minister for the environment, Greg Hunt, publicly defended the action, saying: “The department must implement the law.”

But correspondence obtained by Guardian Australia under FoI laws reveals the cause of Hunt’s change of heart, leading to the apology letter.

In a letter to the then-chairman of the pro-land clearing group Property Rights Australia, Hunt said: “In response to concerns raised by you, Senator O’Sullivan, Senator Canavan and the Hon Warren Entsch MP, the department of environment has written to affected landholders clarifying their obligations and the intent of the first letter.”......
https://www.scribd.com/document/372386311/Department-of-Environment-letter-to-HVA-Permit-Holders-2

  Letter from Greg Hunt to Dale Stiller by The Guardian on Scribd https://www.scribd.com/document/372762129/Letter-from-Greg-Hunt-to-Dale-Stiller

Friday, 9 February 2018

Falling biodiversity, degradation of productive rural land, intensification of coastal & city development, and the threat of climate change require Australia to produce blueprint for a new generation of environment laws


“The next generation of environmental laws will need to recognise explicitly the role of humanity as a trustee of the environment and its common resources, requiring both care and engagement on behalf of future generations.”  [APEEL, Blueprint for the Next Generation of Environmental Law, August 2017]

The Guardian, 6 February 2018:
Environmental lawyers and academics have called for a comprehensive rethink on how Australia's natural landscapes are protected, warning that short-term politics is infecting decision-making and suggesting that the public be given a greater say on development plans.
The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law has launched a blueprint for a new generation of environment laws and the creation of independent agencies with the power and authority to ensure they are enforced. The panel of 14 senior legal figures says this is motivated by the need to systematically address ecological challenges including falling biodiversity, the degradation of productive rural land, the intensification of coastal and city development and the threat of climate change.
Murray Wilcox QC, a former federal court judge, said the blueprint was a serious attempt to improve a system that was shutting the public out of the decision-making process and failing to properly assess the impact of large-scale development proposals.
"We found the standard of management of the environment is poor because everything is made into a political issue," Wilcox said. "Nothing happens until it becomes desperate.
"We need a non-political body of significant prestige to report on what is happening and have the discretion to act."
The legal review, developed over several years and quietly released in 2017, resulted in 57 recommendations. It was suggested by the Places You Love alliance, a collection of about 40 environmental groups that was created to counter a failed bid to set up a "one-stop shop" for environmental approvals by leaving it to the states. The panel undertook the work on the understanding it would be independent and not a piece of activism.
Review report can be found here.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Bellingen Environment Centre (BEC): “The reality is the hardwood native forest industry on the North Coast is in long term decline following the overharvesting of our native forests to meet over commitments in wood supply to North Coast sawmills"


Guardian News, Nambucca Valley Conservation Association, 29 January 2018:

Melinda Pavey's  recent comments on forestry issues  frequently begin with phrases like  " let's consider reality" or "let's listen to the science". 
Unfortunately she appears to do neither according to the Bellingen Environment Centre (BEC) and the Nambucca Valley Conservation Association. 
"The reality is the hardwood native forest industry on the North Coast is in long term decline following the overharvesting of our native forests to meet over commitments in wood supply to North Coast sawmills . In response the industry  is seeking  to intensify harvesting to convert remaining available forests into highly flammable matchstick farms, harvested  intensely  by machines  when very young with much of the outputs burnt in 3 biomass plants proposed for Grafton, Kempsey and Taree," BEC spokesperson Ashley Love said.
"The authoritative document for the North Coast forests is the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) for North East NSW.  It is one of nine regional forest agreements covering the majority of the forested regions of Australia. 
"The reality and the data shows that  North Coast  forests  have the worst representations of forests in conservation reserves of any of the nine regional forest agreement regions throughout Australia.
The forestry industry is seeking to intensify harvesting to convert remaining available forests into highly flammable matchstick farms
Ashley Love, Bellingen Environment Centre
"Rather than a ratio of conservation reserves to harvestable forest of 6:1 as Ms Pavey claims, the RFA  reveals a ratio of conservation reserves to total forest area of 1:3.
"Admittedly, not all the forests are harvestable and not all the reserves are covered in forest, so Ms Pavey must be cautious with figures which she uses."
Mr Love said Ms Pavey's claim that recent field survey work had found high koala occupancy in state forests did not have a broad scientific consensus as "the methodology used for the assessment was largely based on the results from placement of limited numbers of sound recording devices in the field – a very imprecise way of assessing koala populations".
"Her claim that harvested areas of forest regenerate is contradicted by the recent progress report of the RFAs which reports natural regeneration of  70 per cent over of areas harvested during the last 15 years. 
"We don't want to see 30 per cent of our forests lost each time they are harvested." 
"Ms Pavey's report of 27 timber mills between The Hunter and the Tweed indicates just how much the industry has declined – once there were hundreds of mills on the North Coast and thousands of employees in the timber industry.  Logging practices of cutting smaller and smaller trees have meant that the future sawlogs are not being left to grow on."
"She infers that 750 direct jobs in the timber industry are at risk by the establishment of the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) .  In so claiming, she is including in her estimate all the people employed in the industry between the Hunter and the Tweed Rivers and is including those working within plantations and private forest areas which are not included in the GKNP proposal."
NVCA president Paula Flack said that regardless of the National Party's continuous exaggeration of timber industry job numbers on the North Coast, they were dwarfed in comparison to the number of direct and indirect jobs which the GKNP would generate. 
"One recent study from Victoria indicated that one conservation reserve proposal for the Central Highlands forests would generate an additional 750 jobs," Ms Flack said.
"The establishment of national parks on public land and marine parks at sea is a global phenomenon and one of the universal responses to the increasing recognition of the need to protect and, in many cases, restore our natural environments. 
"Unfortunately our current Liberal National Party political leaders are unwilling see the wider environmental, social and economic benefits of the Great Koala National Park and would rather ignore the facts and science by swimming against the tide." 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Is the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government taking the Norther Rivers bushfire risk level seriously?


The NSW Nationals Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) manages more than 870 national parks and reserves totalling over 7 million hectares.

With 22 per cent of the Clarence Valley covered by heavily timbered national parks and the entire NSW Northern Rivers region having 10 national parks, at least 9 nature reserves and 2 state forests, the risk of bushfires has always been high.

With climate change raising the fire risk and the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government stripping the NWPS of personnel and funding, many local residents are beginning to worry.


Monday, 9 October 2017

NSW North East Forest Alliance telling it like it is........




Friday, 15 September 2017

Australian governments continue to trip over their own hypocrisy


Crikey.com.au, 4 September 2017:

The forests of the Amazon basin are often referred to as the lungs of the Earth, nurturing life through rich, tropical biodiversity. Although often overlooked, it’s equally fitting to consider the jungles of the Asia-Pacific as the Earth’s heart. After all, they contain 20% of the world’s plant and animal species, and by some measurements make up six of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. Australia adds to the variety, with its wealth of native vegetation. Each one of these areas is unique and plays an integral part in the world’s interrelated ecological systems.

The positive news is that the international community recognises them as such. Last month marks the one-year anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Brunei-Darussalam, an initiative set up in 2014 to discuss the alarming rate of deforestation in the region.
In the last five years, Indonesia has overtaken Brazil to become the greatest forest-clearing nation in the world. South-east Asia more broadly has lost almost 15% of its forests over the last 15 years. Representing the Turnbull government at the summit, then-newly promoted Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg himself recognised the significance of these figures and declared that Australia was “committed” to rainforest protection throughout the Asia-Pacific.
A year on, Australia has appeared to take steps to support its Asian neighbours, such as contributing funding to assist in ending illegal logging. However, it is interesting to note that while the government seems to portray itself as one of the chief proponents in curbing international deforestation, land clearing remains hugely significant in Australia. In actual fact, the east coast of the continent is considered one of the worst deforestation areas in the world today.
http://www.wwf.org.au/news/news/2017/tree-clearing-causing-queenslands-greatest-animal-welfare-crisis#gs.lfpuVWc

Take a bow, the Turnbull Coalition Government, NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government, Victorian Andrews Coalition Government, Queensland Palaszczuk Labor Government and Tasmanian Hodgman Coalition Government – you are making Australia famous for all the wrong reasons. 

The Guardian, 7 September 2017:

Australia is rapidly losing its world-famous biodiversity. More than 90 species have gone extinct since European colonisation (including three in just the past decade) and more than 1,700 species are now formally recognised as being in danger of extinction.

Despite the pride many Australians feel in our unique natural heritage (and the billions of dollars made from nature-based tourism), the amount of federal funding for biodiversity conservation has dropped by 37% since 2013.

If a local industry or public institution experienced such a drastic funding cut, the people affected would petition their local representatives and the issue would be raised in parliament as a matter of local or national importance.

Threatened species cannot of course lobby government. But all threatened species on the land have at least one elected official who should take responsibility for them.

Threatened species as local constituents

A member of parliament’s primary job, besides being a party member and parliamentarian, is to speak up for local interests. Data from the Species of National Environmental Significance shows that every federal electorate contains at least one threatened species, so every single federally elected politician has a role to play in abating species extinction.

We’ve used that data to create a map that shows the number of threatened species in each federal electorate, along with details of the local MP and their party. It’s obvious from a glance that a handful of electorates contain most of Australia’s threatened species.


If you live in these electorates it's time to shame and name your MP at every opportunity.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

TURNBULL MUST PROTECT TARKINE HERITAGE


“The Australian Heritage Council found the Tarkine in north-west Tasmania of outstanding national heritage significance.”
[Australian Government, Dept. of Environment and Energy, Australian Heritage Council, National Heritage Assessment, The Tarkine]


Bob Brown Foundation, Media Release, 8 September 2017:

TURNBULL MUST PROTECT TARKINE HERITAGE - BROWN

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must reject the Hodgman government's request to open off-road vehicle (ORV) access to the Tarkine's heritage-rich west coast, Bob Brown said tonight. The Hodgman request to Turnbull comes after the Federal Court ruled the state must get federal permission to open tracks in the area.

"Premier Hodgman's Braddon spokesperson on the Tarkine, Joan Rylah, says it all when she told the media today that state government intentions would "reduce vandalism" in the sensitive area. "Ms Rylah is effectively agreeing that re-opening the Sandy Cape to Pieman Heads coast to ORVs will not stop vandalism and she is right," Brown said.

"Recent opinion polling shows that most Tasmanians think the Tarkine's fragile coastal environment and extraordinary Aboriginal heritage sites should be off-limits to the small fraction of ORV owners who want to invade the area. We will release that polling tomorrow."

"It is now up to the Turnbull government to protect this National Heritage Area from destruction," Brown said.