Tuesday 24 April 2018


In a Media Release on April 18, the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC), the peak community environment body on the NSW North Coast, criticised the NSW Government's new  forests logging legislation which the NCEC believes will see forests on crown lands in NSW further degraded and diminished while protection for most threatened species will be removed.

NCEC spokesperson Susie Russell  has compared Premier  Gladys Berijiklian's forest policies with the plans of Queen Elizabeth II for a Commonwealth-wide plan for forest conservation.

“So while we turn our clocks back, and continue to destroy some of the most valuable living treasures on the continent- our unique forests and woodlands -the rest of the Commonwealth is abuzz about the new film featuring the Queen and David Attenborough and the Queen's call for forest conservation,” said Susie Russell.

“While the Queen is projecting images of rainforests on Buckingham Palace to encourage global rainforest conservation, in NSW Gladys is allowing Forestry Corporation to get away unpenalised after bulldozing illegal roads through rainforest on crown lands, as they did in Cherry Tree State Forest.

“Other Commonwealth countries are showcasing their contributions of dedicated forest reserves to Queen Elizabeth II's global legacy project The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC), which is dedicated to the conservation of forests in Commonwealth countries. 

“Yet here in Australia, we're destroying century-old mature trees and planting tiny seedlings as our contribution. Logging is causing accelerating expansion of dieback through crown forests. It's embarrassing. Almost 90% of our wood already comes from plantations, and nearly all the jobs are in plantations, so why are our governments so determined to destroy crown land by promoting native forest logging when economically it actually loses money,” she said.

Key objectives of the QCC include:
  • raising the awareness of the value of native forests and 'saving them for future generations'
  • creating a network of foreest conservation projects
  • hoping to demonstrate the capacity of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth 'to act together as one to ensure forest conservation' 
“In NSW we are logging and degrading World Heritage class eucalypt forests and rainforests, surely protecting them is a legacy every Premier would want. Premiers Wran and Carr said protected forests were their most enduring legacy. But not Gladys... her legacy will be one rebuilt sports stadium and millions of trees gone and vast areas of crown lands degraded. Like asbestos and plastic waste, forest degradation is yet another environmental 'legacy' left behind for future generations to repair,” Ms Russell said.

Wednesday 18 April 2018


 Listing of the Coastal Emu as an Endangered Population in 2002 raised hopes that extra protection would be provided, thus halting, or preferably reversing, their steadily declining numbers. Sadly it was not. The 2017 census recorded just 33 birds, down from 47 a year earlier.

The census records more than bird sightings, and includes feathers, tracks, and scats. Of course not all birds are located, but numbers have likely reached the point where the population is no longer viable.

Emus face many threats. Wild dogs, dingoes, feral cats and foxes, all pose a real threat to chicks and juveniles, while feral pigs are suspected of raiding nests and eating their eggs.

Humans pose an even greater threat, with vehicle strike historically taking an enormous toll, something authorities will not take seriously. An example of that negligence was the decision to increase the speed limit to 100km/hour along Iluka Road through Bundjalung National Park, and a refusal to reduce speed limits on Brooms Head and Wooli Roads.

Another human threat is the proliferation of tightly strung barbed wire fences, often 5 strands or more, that restrict Emu movement and can prove lethal if, when spooked by a predator, they run headlong into them. Many of these 'super-tight' fences are being installed along the highway upgrade, which passes directly through some 60km of the Emu's home range. The RMS washes its hands, claiming they have to provide what landowners request.

Emus breed in late winter, early spring, just when the authorities recommend everyone burn off, and every year, these fires 'escape' and cause havoc, giving an Emu chick little chance of escaping the flames.

There has been pig trapping, and dog baiting, and work using a trained tracker dog, aiming to locate nests so that surveillance can occur to determine why so few chicks are surviving. But with only 20 breeding pairs remaining, and nesting every second year, finding any of those 10 nests across more than 3,000 square kilometres, is improbable.

With no on-ground action to protect Emus, not even a plan, are we just monitoring another extinction event?

- John Edwards

Tuesday 10 April 2018


Inverell farmer Glenn Morris joined the Time2Change Rally in Sydney recently along with other farmers and other community members from around NSW to demand effective action on climate change.  He wrote about his motivation in his local newspaper The Inverell Times earlier this month.

* * * * * 

Last month I joined twenty-five farmers on horseback from across NSW riding through the middle of Sydney to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on the people who live in and make their living from rural Australia.

I’ve been noticing the impacts of climate change on the land around me for the last thirty years. It seems to me as these impacts mount up for farming communities across Australia, the government is doing less and less to tackle the issue and making more and more excuses instead.

The scientific evidence for climate change is clear – and the evidence us farmers are seeing on the ground is even clearer. We’re suffering the devastating effects of record heatwaves, rainfall deficiencies, fires, floods and storms on a regular basis and we can’t take much more of it.

So we decided if the politicians wouldn’t act on climate change, we would! We rode in support of the #Time2Choose rally, a united NSW-wide protest about the thermal coal industry that’s threatening our existence.

We’re getting close to the point of no return as a country – but that point is not here just yet and there are choices we can all make to make a difference and protect this Great Southern Land we all love. It’s time to choose a better life and a safer, healthier climate.

If we don’t take care of our land and stop pillaging it, our food supplies and water resources are at risk. Every time we destroy another area of land, we are effectively destroying the living connection which protects and nurtures us, with clean air, clean water and healthy food.

This is not just an issue for farmers, this affects everyone.

Since riding in support of the rally, I’ve been inundated with messages of support. One of the comments I have kept hearing is how inspired everyone was by this action: those who were there at the rally and saw first hand the magnificent beauty of the horses, those who saw us in the media and we, the riders, were probably most inspired of all. We’re inspired to continue to raise awareness of this issue and we will not rest until we make people aware that the individual choices that they make that will determine our future. 

Australians need to demand better respect for our land, water and climate. We need to expect our politicians to take action on this matter – and to be prepared to use our vote to create that change if we need to. We need to join organisations that are fighting for our food supplies and water resources like the many who were at the time2choose rally including Farmers for Climate Action.

For the future of our land it’s now time to choose: respect or destruction. I choose respect.

Glenn Morris, Inverell Farmer, NSW.

Saturday 7 April 2018


The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) had a short-lived victory in relation to the NSW Government's land clearing regulations last month when the Land and Environment Court found that they were invalid because they had been made unlawfully.  See the CVCC post on the NCC's media release about the court result.

The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), which ran the case for the NCC, explained that the Minister for Primary Industries made a legal error in the making of the code.  He failed to obtain the concurrence of the Environment Minister, as he was legally required to do, before making the Code.

Commenting on the court decision,  the EDO's Chief Executive Officer David Morris said,"In conceding that they failed to follow due process, the Government gives the strong impression of making laws on the run. This is not simply a matter of incorrect paperwork.  Ecologically sustainable development is not just another box to tick - the Environment Minister has a legal responsibility to protect biodiversity in this state."

Following the court decision - and using the correct procedure this time -  the Government reinstituted the code without amendment.

Although the reinstatement was not unexpected, it was disappointing for the EDO and the NCC as it was done without addressing any of the serious concerns which were raised in the court challenge.

The second ground for the court challenge was that the Ministers for Primary Industry and the Environment did not take into account the legal principles of ecologically sustainable development as they are legally required to do.

This matter was not addressed by the court because, as the Government conceded the first ground, it did not have to answer the second ground for the court challenge.

Whether there is any possibility of a further challenge remains to be seen.