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That’s larger than the entire area currently protected in National Parks, and if cleared would make the completion of the reserve network, an international obligation for NSW, a pipe dream.

The rampant clearing that is threatened is eerily reminiscent of that which occurred in Queensland under Campbell Newman’s disastrous reign—a mess that the incumbent Labor government still hasn’t been able to clean up. 

Added to the increasing intensity of native forest logging and loss of habitat for urban development, the pending wave of land clearing will push koalas to the brink in NSW says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).

NPA CEO Kevin Evans said: “Mike Baird is robbing future generations of their natural heritage. Nothing the Baird government has done even comes close to the scandal of pushing koalas to extinction. 

“Talk about taking one for the team! Baird and the Liberals will be remembered as the government who sold koalas out to big agribusiness and developer mates—for the political gain of the National Party. 

“Changes to native vegetation laws were the nail in the coffin for Campbell Newman in Queensland. Well Premier Baird, these laws look awfully like Queensland’s. We’ll be watching your bulldozers at work and making sure our supporters can see too.” 

Dr Oisín Sweeney, Senior Ecologist with the NPA said: “Cue the worn out line from the government that there’s nothing to worry about because the $240 million in private land funding will act as a brake on clearing.

“The fact is that even were the government proposing to buy land outright, which they’re not, the $240 million would only buy 150,000 hectares on 2015 prices[1]. That still leaves 7.85 million hectares open to clearing.

“No bucket of money is big enough to compensate for the damage that the so called ‘equity code’ will cause.

“We must remember too that WWF has only looked at one of the seven proposed self-assessable codes[2]. 

“Although the equity code allows broad-scale clearing, WWF’s figures don’t count the millions of paddock trees that will be open slather—and which are already increasingly being felled[3]—nor the small patches of threatened woodlands that will be cleared. These impacts will change the character of rural NSW forever.

“But when we look at history, the clearing becomes even scarier: the Western Lands Act was passed in 1901 as a response to catastrophic erosion in the west resulting from clearing, overgrazing and drought. Now they’re allowing 86% of the Western Division to be cleared. 

“Mike Baird, at the behest of the National Party, is casting NSW back 115 years to a form of land management whose legacy on soils is still felt today[4].

“And the worst bit is, it’s farmers who will suffer most as their soils blow away and their farms become unproductive wasteland. At least we’ll all know who to thank.”

 

Media contacts:

Kevin Evans, CEO 

T: 0457 797 977

 

Oisín Sweeney, Senior Ecologist

T: 0431 251 194 

 

[1]https://www.ruralbank.com.au/assets/responsive/pdf/publications/farm-land-values-2015.pdf

[2]https://www.landmanagement.nsw.gov.au/simplifying-land-management/lls-codes-of-practice-overview/

[3]http://bit.ly/NSW_Farmers_Lopping_Trees

[4]See section on soils in NSW State of Environment Report 2015: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/soe/20150817soe-2015.htm