Comments

Dear Sir/Madam, I oppose the NSW Governments proposed new land clearing laws, and support stronger protection for bushland and wildlife. 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. The Wentworth group of scientists have stated that the proposed changes will accelerate our already high rate of extinction of our unique flora and fauna species. I am particularly concerned about the proposed repeal of the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. While these have led to a significant decrease in land clearing and habitat loss, what we need to improve our habitat diversity and agricultural productivity, is stronger rather than weaker laws against land clearing. All the proposed changes -- including the use of offsets (which are highly vulnerable to mismanagement and corruption); farmer self-assessment (which reduces accountability); land system codes (which homogenises complex land systems); the dilution of important safeguards such as 'red flag' areas for environmental sensitivity, and the removal of the requirement to 'maintain or improve' biodiversity values -- cannot be read as anything other than a relaxation of existing land clearing laws. I saw first hand, the effects of intense land clearing when touring western NSW in 2001 with my partner. Travelling between Mildura and Broken Hill, we saw a boundary between two pastoral properties, one that was overstocked and one that was stocked closer to carrying capacity. The former was completely bare, with not a tree, shrub or blade of grass to be seen. The other was full of vegetation growth across all structural types. There was a distinct change of land height, with the overstocked area much lower due to erosion. The land literally jumped up to the vegetated property, along the border. This showed to me that land management styles, and in particular, those employing lower land clearing practices, are of paramount importance in maintaining the health of the land for both agriculture and biodiversity. When legislation allows, and thus selects for, lazy and unproductive management styles, the spreading of those destructive practices is what you will achieve. I am concerned that if the NSW Government relaxes existing regulations against land clearing, we will favour the least innovative and proactive farmers, who will be encouraged to accelerate their destruction of biodiversity and agricultural productivity. What we need to do is to work with, support and reward those farmers who understand that their future depends on working with nature rather than exploiting and destroying it. For a government to reward laziness and ignorance above innovation is irresponsible and unforgiveable. It brings a high opportunity cost. Instead of choosing an innovative future with inbuilt buffering against climate change, your government intends to revisit old, discredited and unproductive land management regimes. I call on the government to withdraw the Draft Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act, and commit to laws which will genuinely improve outcomes for nature. Please count this as my submission to the proposed biodiversity conservation reform package. I give permission for this submission to be made public. Yours Sincerely, Glenn Cawthorne 2077

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