Death by a 1000 cuts

Monthly Chronicle - - Village Voice -

At our Pub­lic Fo­rum in May, David Mor­ris, CEO of the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fend­ers Of­fice (EDO), spoke pas­sion­ately about the prob­lems bio­di­ver­sity cur­rently face in NSW un­der the con­tentious Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Act 2016 in­tro­duced into law this year.

The EDO’s key con­cerns in­clude the ex­panded use of bio­di­ver­sity off­sets, re­moval of a le­gal re­quire­ment to ‘main­tain or im­prove’ na­tive veg­e­ta­tion, and the use of self-as­sess­able codes to ‘de-reg­u­late’ clear­ing na­tive veg­e­ta­tion.

Prior to giv­ing its con­sent for de­vel­op­ment of an area with high na­tive veg­e­ta­tion, Coun­cil re­quires a Bio­di­ver­sity De­vel­op­ment As­sess­ment Re­port. One of the tests in this re­port is that of Se­ri­ous and Ir­re­versible Im­pact (SII) on the eco­log­i­cal com­mu­nity. For­tu­nately, Ku-ring-gai’s Blue Gum High For­est and Syd­ney Tur­pen­tine Iron­bark For­est are al­ready listed on the SII ta­ble. How­ever, this could still be over­turned by State Sig­nif­i­cant De­vel­op­ment or In­fra­struc­ture works.

Out­side of these few listed items, con­sent for clear­ing or de­vel­op­ment can be given where off­set cred­its are used. These in­clude Like-for-like re­place­ment habi­tat up to 100km from the orig­i­nal site. Damn­ingly, off­sets also in­clude mone­tary pay­ments into the Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Fund!

The flex­i­bil­ity in the scope of off­sets avail­able pro­vide am­ple po­ten­tial for species to de­cline to crit­i­cally en­dan­gered lev­els.

As res­i­dents we need to look at the big pic­ture, if we al­low trees and veg­e­ta­tion to be re­moved from our in­di­vid­ual prop­er­ties the over­all im­pact will be huge for our eco­log­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties. One op­por­tu­nity is to lobby Coun­cil to set up vol­un­tary con­ser­va­tion agree­ments for high value com­mu­ni­ties on coun­cil owned land.

What To Do? Write to our state and fed­eral MPs and de­mand changes to im­prove pro­tec­tions for en­dan­gered com­mu­ni­ties and bio­di­ver­sity.

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