NSW Environment in Dire Straits - Scathing Environment Report Tabled in Parliament
24 August 2023 - The five year statutory review into the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 has today been tabled in NSW Parliament, providing a damning insight into the systemic failures that are pushing the state deeper into a biodiversity crisis. The report, headed up by Ken Henry, says that not only is the Act failing but it is actively contributing to a worsening biodiversity crisis in NSW. It opens by saying “The Review Panel found that the present Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 is not meeting its primary purpose of maintaining a healthy, productive and resilient environment, and is never likely to do so.”
Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment said: “The former Coalition Government’s legislatively entrenched assault on nature can now be seen for what it is and must come to an end. The report is scathing and it is a clear clarion call for our precious environment. It is now or never for nature, we must prioritise protecting what is left and work to restore and regenerate nature before it is too late. We are in an extinction crisis and habitat loss and destruction is the main cause. The very laws that are meant to stop this are more than failing, they are facilitating biodiversity loss at unprecedented rates. Our environmental regulatory framework provides greater protection for developer interests and exploitation than for our precious environment.
“The report provides a bright green light for the Minns Government to turn this broken legislative framework around and to make our State nature positive. The report recommends that to do this, our biodiversity conservation laws must take primacy over and above our development laws. The report says we must move to a nature positive model where our environment is being repaired and regenerated rather than exploited and harmed because our economy and our very survival are inextricably linked to a healthy environment.
“The question now is will the Minns Government do this? I am genuinely worried about whether this Government has what it takes, because it hasn’t yet stopped logging the heart of the Great Koala National Park on the mid north coast which was an environmental election commitment. To get this right the Minns Government will need to stand up to those with vested interests that profit from environmental harm.
“The report shows how conflicting legislation undermines the aims of our biodiversity laws and a lack of data and monitoring on the effectiveness of the laws contribute to them being weak in the face of the massive challenge of protecting and restoring biodiversity in NSW. It identifies land clearing and native forest logging as key threats to ecosystems and habitat and the impacts of the climate crisis are being felt by native species with limited ability to adapt. This report is ringing the alarm bells for nature, we must do everything we can to respond. It will take a whole of Government approach to turn this around.
“As we already knew, First Nations people and communities are not being included in environmental management decision-making to the necessary level. The Report calls for broad expansions of First Nations ranger programs and in perpetuity stewardship agreements. This is critical to any reform going forward to ensuring land management practices recognise and centre First Nations peoples.” Ms Higginson said.
A Statutory Review of the native vegetation provisions of the Local Land Services Act 2013 was also tabled today, calling for strengthened environmental protections, reduced land clearing, better engagement with First Nations people and communities and better monitoring and transparency.
“The two reports build a strong case for a big investment in private conservation with public money. There should be a massive investment by the Government to reverse the decline of nature in NSW. Public attitudes are clear that conservation is necessary and desired, the Minns Government must take up the challenge of repairing and regenerating nature here in NSW for all of us and for future generations.” Ms Higginson said.