Mike Baird’sJune budget cut funding for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage by almost 10 per cent. It coincides with the proposed watering down of the state’s key conservation laws that deal with threatened species, land clearing and forestry operations.
So you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Coalition’s focus is to take awayexistingprotections for Australian plants and animals in NSW, in favour of opening up more areas for commercial exploitation using the catch-cry of “reducing green tape”.
The current proposals may provide increased opportunity for unsustainable commercial development, mining and logging, but they ignore the fact that the largest cause of species decline is recognised as habitat degradation and loss. It’s not smart to reduce standards, remove requirements for environmental assessments or discontinue threatened species surveys.
If we open up development on areas previously considered protected, such as steep slopes, we will only be rewarded down the track with out-of-control erosion, salinity and water pollution risksand diminishing carbon stores and wildlife refuge.
Our natural heritage can ill afford less protection through the introduction of often unproven minimum standards, voluntary codes and self-regulation.
Instead we need meaningful protections along with transition into sustainably managed plantations for commercial wood, and renewable energy sources to replace our dependence on fossil fuels.
Biodiversity losses are occurring around the world. Sadly Australia has a particularly poor record on species extinctions. We need to be forward thinking and recognise the real values of our land, not removing protectionsand repeating past mistakes.
Greens candidate for Goulburn, NSW State Election March 2015
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