I am writing to make a submission on the Government's Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 and Draft Local

Land Services Amendment Bill 2016, currently on public exhibition.

I oppose the NSW Government's proposed new land clearing laws, and support stronger protection for

bushland and wildlife.

I am a professional consultant botanist working for 3 decades in northern NSW.

I have provided vegetation mapping, surveys and reports to all levels of government.

I am particularly concerned about the triage approach to protecting NSW biodiversity, and the lack of evidence-based assessment used to categorise Exempt, Regulated and Protected lands. High conservation value vegetation, habitats and landscape are all at higher risk under these proposed laws. The increased reliance on offsets means accelerated net loss of our most valuable and threatened biodiversity assets.

For this professional scientist, the proposed legislation is appalling in its lack of evidence-based scientific content.

The mapping hierarchy, the assessment methodology, the lack of understanding of ecological diversity all point to a failure to consider the real environmental costs in what is essentially a politico-economic biodiversity strategy. The ecological and social content has been subsumed in the rush to provide short term political capital by yet another three word slogan campaign. Sustain.Invest.Protect (profits).

The rest of this submission you have read before. In using the points raised by NCC NSW I deliberately want to reinforce those points, making it clear that there is a unified voice from those working to protect NSW biodiversity.

I am concerned that the proposed changes will increase land clearing and carbon

pollution, push wildlife closer to the brink of extinction and undermine the sustainability of our farmland.

I am particularly concerned with proposed changes that will:

* Repeal the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 - these are

important laws that have led to a significant decrease in land clearing and habitat loss;

* Remove the requirement to 'maintain or improve biodiversity values', leading to a decline in

environmental outcomes, soil health, water quality and salinity;

* Limit important safeguards, such as 'red flag' areas for environmentally sensitive areas;

* Expand the use of 'self-assessable' codes, allowing landholders to clear trees with little oversight;

* Reduce the role of the Environment Minister in important biodiversity decisions, with the primary

regulatory role for land clearing sitting with the Local Land Services and Minister for Primary Industries

* Increase the scope for Ministerial discretion, including in relation to the application of offsets;

* Increase the use of biodiversity offsets, with variations to 'like for like' offsetting and allowing proponents

to clear trees in exchange for paying money into a fund;

* Drive regional climate change and increase greenhouse gas emissions from the land use sector;

* Rely on Government funding to achieve biodiversity gains, while reducing environmental protections in


I am also concerned that the Government has provided little explanation of how the new laws will be

monitored in order to determine changes in land clearing rates and whether biodiversity values are enhanced.

It is also unclear which agencies will be responsible for enforcing the new law.

I call on the Government to withdraw the Draft Bills, and commit to laws which will genuinely improve

outcomes for nature.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Murray

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