Monday 3 April 2017


The Nature Conservation Council of NSW and seven other peak environment groups [1] have issued a mid-term report card on the NSW Government’s performance for nature.  These groups believe that our state government has failed nature.

The environment groups consider the worst environmental failures since 2015 include:
·         Watering down strong land-clearing laws, which will drive species extinctions and climate change
·         Allowing expansion of coal and gas projects on farmland and in special natural areas, including in Sydney’s drinking-water catchment
·         Subsidising native forest logging, which is driving koalas towards extinction
·         Reducing national parks funding, slowing reserve acquisitions to a trickle and reducing conservation work and research
·         Undermining the Murray Darling Basin Plan, which will result in less water for rivers and wetlands

The issues raised include contentious land-clearing codes that will see farmers paid $240 million for conservation efforts on their land to counter destruction of vegetation elsewhere. Kate Smolski, the council's chief executive, said it was "laughable" that the funds will be largely drawn from the Climate Change Fund levied from consumers and earmarked for emissions cuts and climate adaptation.

"It speaks volumes that there's been four ministers of the environment in six years," said Ms Smolski, . "We do not think the coalition government takes the environment seriously."

The latest minister is Gabrielle Upton, appointed when Gladys Berejiklian became Premier in January this year after Mike Baird’s resignation.  Ms Upton is also Minister for Local Government and Minister for Heritage.  Having three ministerial portfolios obviously means she has a heavy workload.  This leads to concern about just how much attention the environment will get.

[1] National Parks Association of NSW, Total Environment Centre, Blue Mountains Conservation Society, Colong Foundation for Wilderness, North Coast Environment Council,  Central West Environment Council, South East Region Conservation Alliance.

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