NEW BIODIVERSITY LAWS PUT BUSHLAND AND WILDLIFE AT RISK
After months of speculation, the Baird government has finally released a range of proposed new biodiversity legislation, including the new draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill. The Society believe the Bills waters down the current laws aimed at protecting our wildlife and our native bushland.
Why is this important for our community?
This is a significant issue for our community, as 10% of all threatened species in NSW can be found in the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains is home to 65 threatened animals species and 30 threatened plants, including a number of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. This high level of biodiversity in the Blue Mountains is due to the significant amounts of high quality bushland both within the national park and importantly on private land.
The Blue Mountains Conservation Society believe that if these Bills are passed in Parliament there will be an increase in land clearing on private land, and remnant bushland across the state will be destroyed. We do not want to go down the same dangerous path of broad-scale land clearing that recently devastated hundreds of thousands of hectares of bushland in Queensland.
What will the change?
Currently NSW has a regulatory system where the impact of a development on native plants and animals is assessed, and then developments are either approved or refused, with the community having various public appeal rights in the courts.
The proposed new laws will create a system where nearly all developments can be approved, as long as the biodiversity impacts of the development are "offset". "Like for like" offsetting is not necessarily required - offsets can include the payment of funds by developers for biodiversity works in the future and for conserving areas which do not necessarily have the same biodiversity values as the areas impacted by development. Even more worrying current public appeal rights in terms of biodiversity impacts are nearly all removed.
The Society is especially concerned about the changes in terms of the status of biodiversity or wildlife covenants on private land. Some landowners in the Greater Blue Mountains area have made the ultimate gift and permanently covenanted parts of their bushland properties, thereby conserving areas of high biodiversity value forever, even if the landowners die or sell. Landowners entered into these agreements on the understanding that their properties under covenant could not be used by developers to "offset" future development.
The new Bill, however, will now allow the covenant on their properties to be converted (after death or sale) and be used to get approval for future developments elsewhere by having their property used as a biodiversity offset. This is an appalling breach of trust in terms of the important gift these landowners have made. Landholders entered into the covenant in good faith and now the rules have been changed, with no consultation."
Find out more
• Read a recent article in the Blue Mountains Gazette here
• You can see the NSW Government's information on the new Bills here
• You can see the Society's submission on the new Bills here
• The Blue Mountains Conservation Society hosted a community information night on the new Bills in June. You can see the NSW Environmental Defenders Office presentation here.
• You can see the Royal Zoological Society of NSW submission here
What YOU can do
Show the Government you won't sit back and let nature be bulldozed and native species lost, join the campaign and take action here.
[EDONSW Blue Mountains Conservation Society meeting
about the new draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill]
photo by Vera Hong