Those who pay for reservation go unheard
THE TFGA has recently been in discussions with the Federal Department of Environment and Energy about a proposal to list eucalyptus ovata and eucalyptus brookeriana as a nationally threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
We have been told by the department these species are threatened and there is a requirement to protect them. We have also been advised the dewear partment took extensive consultation before proceeding with the proposal.
This consultation appears to have involved everybody except farmers. The irony in this is that it is farmers who will be expected to maintain these communities and expected to the economic costs of doing so. Under current legislation industrial forestry on crown land will be exempt, so once again private landowners will carry the weight.
What is equally disturbing is that the three state ministers involved in this area were not advised of this proposal. It is difficult for a state government to have input into decisions if the relevant ministers are unaware of the proposed action.
From the TFGA’s point of view there is no criticism of the ministers in question, but questions around a process that can be permitted to proceed while excluding the major players.
Two key stakeholders, the State Government and farmers, were not consulted in any way about the proposal. Once again, we find a process that appears less than transparent.
If engaged the both the state ministers and the TFGA, representing farmers, would have been able to add sound counsel to the original assessment process. As it stands we have had an admission the process was flawed, that consultation should have been wider, particularly with key stakeholders, and an acknowledgement farmers will wear most of the cost of any listing.
The TFGA policy is very clear on this. If the community has expectations, and we recognise they do in relation to biodiversity on private land, then the community needs to pay for them. Currently the community makes no economic commitment to the private landowner and as such places no economic value on the reservation. It is the landowner who incurs the cost who places a greater value on the outcome.
The community needs to be prepared to place a dollar value on its expectations.