Biodiversity Reforms - Have Your Say

PO Box A290

Sydney South

NSW 1232

Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill

Draft Local Land Services (Amendment) Bill

I submit that

The NSW Government should withdraw the Draft Bills, and

Commit to laws which will genuinely improve outcomes for nature.

1 While the current suite of biodiversity conservation legislation could be greatly improved, the currently proposed new Bills are, over all, a substantial backward rather than forward step in delivering a long term framework for better investment in the conservation and management of our natural heritage.

2 The proposed draft Bills are so deeply flawed in many respects that it is necessary to withdraw them at this stage and develop better, clearer, enforceable provisions in order to safeguard the natural environment which we cherish and on which we depend to sustain us.

3 Tinkering at the edges of the draft Bills could not overcome their inherent serious inadequacies. Accordingly I have not attempted to comment on specific details within the draft Bills.

4 The Government should rather recognise and properly address the need to retain and manage our remaining, diverse and unique nature habitat so as to better invest in maintenance and improvement of biodiversity values across the landscape that will in the long term benefit us all.

5 In doing this I call on the Government to:

* factor in the precautionary principles that underpin ecologically sustainable development, including the ongoing changes in climate;

* to ensure that private as well as public land provisions are structured and resourced to facilitate rather than hinder best practice management and development for the long term;

* abandon the sloppy implementation of 'biodiversity offsets' that are failing to protect loss of critical habitat with inappropriate trade-offs that neither ensure improvement, let alone maintenance, biodiversity values;

6 In submitting these brief comments, I draw on some 55 years of experience in nature conservation advocacy since first arriving in Adelaide in 1961. With a personal commitment to equity, fairness and responsible management of our natural resources, and drawing on my tertiary qualifications as zoologist, I was staggered and appalled at the rampant land clearing that was at that time destroying vast areas of mallee country boosted by a then-in-force income tax offset for wealthy professionals. Throughout the time since, based in South Australia and now in NSW, I have worked to press for wiser and better management of our precious land and water resources through approaches that deliver nature conservation AND benefit the community generally, There have been some welcome advances in legislation since that time, often hard fought as exploitative private interests were reined in for public good. Over that time there have also been many good and wise supporters who have recognised and supported the need for better legislation. It would be tragic if this current government wiped these improved provisions through ignorance or wilful disregard for what really matters, and that is to care the planet we inherit not only for our benefit but also for future generations.

7 I support and commend the widespread calls, well substantiated and documented through research and experience, for a major rethink in how the government should best advance biodiversity conservation and management. In doing so I recall that Minister Stokes soon after he became Minister for the Environment referred to The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold as a book that raised his awareness of human influence on the landscape for good and bad and the costs these influences can incur. Much has been published since on this and similar themes. I can only hope the government sees fit to heed the messages and acts responsibly to wind the clock forward not back.

Anne Reeves, OAM

June 2016

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