Right on time, the independent panel reviewing NSW biodiversity legislation has released its final report. Aimed at reducing ‘compliance and administrative burdens’, the panel recommends repealing the Native Vegetation Act, the Threatened Species Conservation Act, and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
Elements of the current acts are proposed to form a new Biodiversity Conservation Act, ” . . with the goal to maintain a healthy, productive and resilient environment for the greatest wellbeing of the community, now and into the future, consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.” The panel proposes the new act should focus on conserving biodiversity at a bioregional or state scale.
To achieve this end it recommends transferring the management of existing agricultural land to Local Land Services, with new agricultural development requiring further local or state government approval.
For areas of ‘high conservation value’, outside the public reserve system, the panel proposes promoting conservation and providing ‘funding their long-term on-going management’ via the Nature Conservation Trust. In addition, a statewide biodiversity offsets fund is recommended for major projects, and the ‘development and use of a comprehensive system for monitoring’.
For logging, the panel proposes a new code of practice for less intensive operations on private land. However as ” . . . larger volumes of timber are being sourced from private land and being used to supplement (unsustainable) timber supply contracts that the Government has with mill owners, particularly on the north coast”, these operations ‘should still have regulatory oversight’.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, conservation groups have condemned the review, suggesting it has neutered the OE&H, will lead to wide scale land clearing and species loss. Another view is that the OE&H, at least in this bioregion, have been neutered for some time, show little interest in vegetation decline or species loss, and conditions will remain on wide scale land clearing.
On the forestry issue, I’ve finally responded to FCNSW‘s Mr Lee Blessington, regarding concerns about FCNSW’s activities in the Eden and Southern Regional Forest Agreement areas.
Among other things I refer to the RFAs, the intention to implement a comprehensive system of monitoring, and the fact that FCNSW hasn’t done it. Of course the reason it hasn’t been done is precisely because the stupid NSW government guaranteed timber commitments, even though it knew the timber wasn’t there.
I’ve also noted the EPA will somehow provide for Bell-miner associated die-back in its review of forestry licences, although it, FCNSW and the OE&H are yet to acknowledge dieback is a threat to koalas. So we’ll have to wait and see what comes next from the EPA.
Also, a correction as the volumes of timber proposed to be removed from the state conservation areas were in the Natural Resources Commission report, the mistake was a typo. It appears sawlog volumes will be similar to, or just under, average volumes removed in current forestry operations, about 3 cm/hectare. Little wonder they have to be subsidized.