The NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity reforms have been criticised by conservationists and scientists who fear that the weakening of native vegetation laws will lead to an increase in widespread land clearing and an acceleration of native flora and fauna extinctions.
These reforms replace other legislation including the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
They have also been criticised by some farmers for similar reasons.
Towards the end of June Inverell beef farmer Glenn Morris rode his horse across the Harbour Bridge to draw attention to the problems he saw with the new legislation.
He said that soil and vegetation were not the most popular things to talk about “but if we don’t start getting a culture of respect and love for nature, we’re in big trouble.”
Echonet recently reported on a statement from a group of farmers calling on the state government to make significant changes to the proposed legislation - the Local Land Services Amendment Bill and the Biodiversity Conservation Bill.
These concerned farmers, including two former Young Farmers of the Year and a former regional director of the NSW Agriculture Department and CEO of Landcare, are urging the government to set bold goals for improving native vegetation and farm sustainability. They want the new laws to ensure that soil health, salinity and water quality are protected and that there is a significant increase in funds for stewardship and private land conservation.
Northern Rivers Macadamia farmer Pam Brook is concerned that the proposed legislation will lead to more land clearing rather than regenerating and restoring farmland. She points to her experience where the reintroduction of rainforest on her property paid big dividends.
“In the early days we used spray for everything,” she said. “One of the things we’ve discovered with the rainforest is that it’s a great source of predator bugs and insects that provide a rich balance for our macadamia orchards.”
Another statement signatory, Alstonville avocado farmer Michael Hogan pointed out, “Any stock and station agent will tell you that a well-treed property will attract a higher price than a cleared farm.”
- Leonie Blain
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on August 15, 2016.