Koala habitat around the state could be decimated under proposed changes to tree clearing controls in NSW, a new report has found. and it’s feared they will push koalas ‘to the brink’ in the state.
The report, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says more than 2.2 million hectares, or around 10 per cent of koala habitat in NSW, could be bulldozed.
In total more than 8 million hectares of the state’s trees, forests and woodlands could be wiped out under the new laws.
Environmental groups are scathing of the planned changes, with the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) laying the blame squarely on premier Mike Baird trying to appease minor coalition partner, the National Party, after his controversial backflip on the proposed greyhound ban.
‘Mike Baird is robbing future generations of their natural heritage… nothing the Baird government has done even comes close to the scandal of pushing koalas to extinction,’ NPA chief Kevin Evans said.
The WWF’s Dr Francesca Andreoni says that ‘under what’s proposed tree clearing will be out of control’.
The NSW government is introducing four new self-assessable codes for land clearing: management, efficiency, equity and farm planning.
In the WWF-Australia commissioned report, environmental consultancy Eco Logical Australia analysed potential impacts of one, the ‘equity’ code.
It found local government areas such as the Clarence Valley and Tenterfield could suffer a huge loss in koala habitat as a result.
‘WWF-Australia commissioned this report because the NSW government has failed to provide any estimates of the impact on clearing rates from these proposed changes and all freedom of information requests have been denied, Dr Andreoni said.
‘We can’t allow our last remaining areas of forest and bush to be bulldozed,’ she said.
‘Scientists have warned that the new laws could see a return to broad scale clearing in NSW – this report is further proof that they’re right.
‘There are already major concerns about koalas with fears they are rapidly disappearing in NSW, this amount of clearing would put koalas and many other species of wildlife in the express lane to extinction in NSW,’ she said.
The NPA’s Mr Evans said that Mr Baird ‘under heavy political fire as a result of reversing the broadly popular greyhound ban, will further appease his minor coalition partners by allowing a potential 2.2 million hectares of koala habitat to be bulldozed across NSW under his planned land clearing laws’.
‘In the shocking new report WWF estimates that, all up, over 8 million hectares of bushland across NSW, 10 per cent of the entire state, could be lost to Baird’s bulldozers if the new laws are passed,’ he said.
‘That’s larger than the entire area currently protected in National Parks, and if cleared would make the completion of the reserve network, an international obligation for NSW, a pipe dream.’.
‘The rampant clearing that is threatened is eerily reminiscent of that which occurred in Queensland under Campbell Newman’s disastrous reign, a mess that the incumbent Labor government still hasn’t been able to clean up.
‘Added to the increasing intensity of native forest logging and loss of habitat for urban development, the pending wave of land clearing will push koalas to the brink in NSW,’ Mr Evans said.
The report says that around 38 per cent of the trees, forests and woodlands that remain in NSW could be cleared, much of it out west.
The Clarence Valley local government area (LGA)would lose 150,945 hectares, while the Tenterfield LGA would lose 164, 035 hectares).
Mr Evans said the National Party has emerged as a ‘key threatening process to Mike Baird and koalas’.
‘Talk about taking one for the team. Baird and the Liberals will be remembered as the government who sold koalas out to big agribusiness and developer mates, for the political gain of the National Party.
‘Changes to native vegetation laws were the nail in the coffin for Campbell Newman in Queensland. Well Premier Baird, these laws look awfully like Queensland’s. We’ll be watching your bulldozers at work and making sure our supporters can see too.
‘The Baird government, at the behest of the National Party, is casting NSW back 115 years to a form of land management whose legacy on soils is still felt today.
‘And the worst bit is, it’s farmers who will suffer most as their soils blow away and their farms become unproductive wasteland. At least we’ll all know who to thank,’ he said.
Download report at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ahq97giw50m42zq/AAAZe0UbYS4uXWnnws2J512Ra?dl=0