The West Australian
EPA alert on bush clearing
WA’s environment watchdog has raised concerns over the amount of bush being bulldozed across the State and called for an audit of cleared land to ensure sites are protected.
The Environmental Protection Authority said that despite native vegetation clearing being one of the biggest threats to biodiversity in the State, no one knew how much was lost each year.
In its latest report , the EPA also said a lack of tree coverage across Perth was driving up urban temperatures to dangerous levels.
According to the regulator, a study of aerial photographs of Perth found between 2001 and 2009 almost 7000ha was cleared — equivalent to an area twice the size of Kings Park every year.
But the EPA noted there were activities that did not require approval for clearing such as subdivision approvals from local government and the WA Planning Commission.
The EPA said it was “particularly concerned by the cumulative impact of clearing in the Perth, Peel, Wheatbelt and Pilbara regions”.
It called for a streamlined approach to clearing assessments and indicated a single agency or department should be responsible for gathering and providing clearing information, arguing better data on the “extent and causes of approved clearing” was vital.
Noting that temperatures in urban areas could be up to 15C hotter than surrounding natural landscapes, the EPA also called for better planning for tree planting in Perth.
“The EPA encourages future urban subdivisions and developments (both infill and new) to retain trees where possible . . a.nd that additional trees should be planted to increase canopy cover,” it said.
Green groups, including the Conservation Council of WA, demanded the State Government use new biodiversity laws to reduce clearing and beef-up assessment processes.