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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

The effect of the loss of the snail

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Warren Kennedy (Echo 28/8) poses the question  ‘What would be the effect of the Mitchell’s rainforest snail becoming extinct?’, and alleges that it won’t cause climate change to get worse.

His allegation is just a punt. The snail forages on the forest floor’s leaf litter, releasing the nutrients into the soil for the forest to grow (carbon capture and storage and oxygen supply). Its shell is a rare source of forest calcium, needed by certain bird species for the formation of their egg shells (pollination, forest seed distribution, and forest pest management). It is also a wildlife food source down towards the bottom of the food chain helping to ensure a healthy forest.

Whatever may take up some of the snail’s environmental input, diversity of species provides a robust forest defence to disease, pests, fire, and flood, whereas forests reduced to a sparse amount of species are open to terminal collapse from single events.

The ripples of impacts are unknown. The callous disregard for knowledge of actual impacts is a hallmark of the current unsubstantiated and placebo environmental management techniques (like the biodiversity offset legislation), that now threaten even human life on this planet, not just the impacts of climate change.

Our present system of environmental management is unsustainable. That means it ends. How it ends is the question – either ongoing collapse of environmental systems, or we move to sustaining environmental systems, that in turn sustain life on this planet. Time is over for taking punts with our environment, and our future.

I urge everyone to join in with the world’s students who have called a global strike on 20 September, and for our generation to do whatever is needed to hand on a functioning planet to these young people who will inherit the mess we have created.

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