Showing posts with label biodiversity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biodiversity. Show all posts

Thursday, 11 October 2018

INVITATION FOR PUBLIC COMMENT: Proposed 19.4ha subdivision at Hickey Street, Iluka. curently being assessed as a controlled action


This proposed development of 19.41ha of forested land adjacent to World Heritage Gondwana coastal rainforest in Iluka, NSW, was first sent for public consultation in December 2015.

This is probably the last chance that community members have to offer their opinion on the plan for a 141 lot subdivision on the lot.

The Stevens Group has issued an Invitation for Public Comment which reads in part:

The preliminary documentation for the proposed action is on display and will be publicly available, to be viewed or obtained by download from the online facility without charge, from the 24 September 2018 until 4:30pm (AEST) on the 2 November 2018, at the following locations:

 § Clarence Valley Council Administrative Centre – 2 Prince Street, Grafton, NSW;
 § Clarence Valley Council Administrative Centre – 50 River Street, Maclean, NSW;
 § Iluka Library – Corner Duke Street & Micalo Street, Iluka, NSW;
§ NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Level 4, 49-51 Victoria Street, Grafton, NSW;

§ Online at /www.stevensgroup.com.au%20– a link to the preliminary documentation will be available by selecting the ‘Residential’ page, then by choosing the “Iluka Subdivision – Invitation For Public Comment” tab.

Interested persons and organisations are invited to view the preliminary documentation. Written comments can be directed to Stevens Holdings Pty Limited, C/- Ocean Park Consulting Pty Limited, PO Box 99, Miami, QLD 4220, or email (rangi@oceanparkqld.com.au). 

Deadline for submissions is 2 November 2018.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Here we are on the NSW North Coast living amid remnants of the splendor that was Australia in 1788.....


....and it is fading and dying before our very eyes, while the Turnbull Coalition Government follows in the footsteps of the Abbott Coalition Government by turning its back on us and our concerns.

North Coast Environment Council, media release, 7 May 2018:


… SCIENTISTS ARE THE NEXT CASUALTIES …

Malcolm Turnbull's Government has launched yet another offensive on the environment, with the announcement it was sacking dozens of scientists.

“The rivers of cash that the government has to splash around don't extend to environmental protection,” said Susie Russell, North Coast Environment Council Vice-President.

“This will have a significant impact on north coast forests. We have been relying on the Recovery Planning process to guarantee some protection for nationally endangered species. Only last month, NCEC was a signatory (with NEFA, the National Parks Association and the South East Region Conservation Alliance) to a letter to federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. We pleaded for Canberra to take its environmental responsibilities seriously. We pointed out that the NSW Government was not abiding by Federal Recovery Plans for threatened species.


The Greater Glider is one of the species where a Recovery Plan is required, but nothing gets produced.
Photo by Jasmine Zeleny.


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Is the Berejiklian Government treating a conservation trust & koala protection fund as a method to pork barrel on the NSW North Coast ahead of the next state election?


The koala population of New South Wales ends the year as it began - in danger of localised extinction on the NSW North Coast and widespread extinction across the state.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 2017:

Koala populations are under siege in many parts of NSW, including the far north coast of NSW. 
Photo: Cole Bennetts

The Berejiklian government proceeded to buy two blocks of land for koala habitat, overriding internal concerns the purchases were "not a priority" as protections were already in place.

The acquisition of the land in the Tweed Shire earlier this year comes as a new poll finds strong strong local support for new koala national parks.

There is also confirmation the state's new biodiversity conservation act prevents threatened regional populations of any species - including koalas - securing elevated endangered status.

Documents released under freedom of information to the North Coast Environment Centre (NCEC) reveal Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) staff doubted the benefits of paying almost $1 million for about 104 hectares of land for koala protection near Pottsville, north of Byron Bay……

Ashley Love, a spokesman for the North Coast Environment Council, said the spending appeared aimed at shoring up support for National MPs in marginal electorates in the region.

Mr Love is also concerned the government will squander the $10 million koala fund - meant to protect "vital" habitat - and a separate $240 million biodiversity conservation trust to protect land with high conservation values.

"It was a bad precedent at the very beginning of when this government's going to spend a lot of money on private land," he said…..

A ReachTEL of 700 residents in the state seat of Lismore found 68.3 per cent of participants in Lismore town and 71.9 per cent in Ballina support the creation of national parks to protect koalas from logging and land clearing.

"This polling shows that were the government to create them, they would be broadly welcomed,"  Alix Goodwin, chief executive of the NSW National Parks Association, said.

"We expect that the forthcoming Whole of Government Koala Strategy will reflect the wishes of the community and include new protected areas."

The new biodiversity conservation act, which is widely viewed as easing controls on land-clearing, has also stripped the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee of its ability to highlight localised threats to species.

The independent NSW Scientific Committee made a preliminary finding in August that the koala population near Port Stephens was endangered as it is '"facing a very high risk of extinction in NSW in the near future."

However, the new conservation regulations passed later that month precluded a local population of a species from having a separate rating if it already listed. Koalas are deemed "vulnerable" in NSW.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Anthony Waldron: "I knew there were a lot of threatened species in Australia, but I didn't realise things were getting worse so quickly."


ABC News, 26 October 2017:

(Supplied: WWF)

Australia is one of seven countries responsible for more than half of global biodiversity loss, according to a study published today.

Scientists based their findings on the worsening in conservation status of species between 1996 and 2008 on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

The IUCN red list uses a series of categories to rank how close a species is to extinction, from "least concern" through to "extinct in the wild".

Of the 109 countries studied, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China and the United States (primarily Hawaii) also ranked inside the top seven as the worst offenders on conservation.

The researchers conceded that species native to multiple countries presented an obstacle to their calculations, but lead author Anthony Waldron says they were able to narrow down where the pressures were coming from.

"Once you actually work out [which country] might have been responsible for the loss of diversity, Australia is standing there at number two," Dr Waldron said.

"I knew there were a lot of threatened species in Australia, but I didn't realise things were getting worse so quickly."

Compared to Australia, which recorded a biodiversity loss of between 5 and 10 per cent of the total global decline, the study published in Nature found Indonesia had "absolutely the highest number of declining species", representing around 21 per cent of the total decline during the period.

Reduction in biodiversity was calculated by looking at species that had their IUCN red list upgraded during the period, such as from "least concern" to "threatened", or "vulnerable" to "endangered"……

Environmental sustainability professor Barry Brook from the University of Tasmania said there were a number of pressures threatening biodiversity in Australia.

"The predominant one is landclearing — ongoing clearing for habitat. New South Wales and Queensland have been particularly bad for that over the past two decades," Professor Brook said.

"[But] it's also what's known as 'lags' or 'extinction debt'. That's where you've had this historical change over many decades and it takes time for extinction to catch up as populations are reduced and fragmented and lose genetic diversity, then gradually fade away."

He said that spending on conservation is worthwhile when it involves preserving habitat or targeting pests.

"Native biodiversity is definitely improved by removing invasive plants and to a lesser extent invasive species."

(ABC News: Caroline Winter)

BACKGROUND


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Under Turnbull Government's new plan "38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines"



Canberra Times, 17 September 2017:
In the corridors of Parliament House that day, as I met MPs of every stripe, I felt a great sense of promise, even pride. And it seemed for a while such hope was not misplaced. In 2012, after an exhaustive scientific process and wide community consultation, Tony Burke declared a system of marine national parks, one of the biggest and best in the world, the most significant conservation gain in Australian history.
That took courage. Because it put science before politics, prudence ahead of expediency. And it was popular. But as soon as he came to power in 2013 Tony Abbott announced an immediate moratorium on these parks and instigated a review. The purpose was purely political. To delay implementation, corrode consensus and deny the science. A move straight out of the culture warrior's playbook.
After decades of forward-thinking leaders, the nation had fallen into the hands of a man whose loyalties were only to the past. It was a low moment. But Abbott's reign was as brief as it was fruitless. It was a relief to see him replaced in 2015 by a man who'd actually done things, who believed in the future. Malcolm Turnbull did not scorn science. He seemed to understand the value and fragility of our natural estate. So there was new hope the marine parks review would now be expedited and redirected towards real conservation outcomes. With coral reefs bleaching and miners pressing for even more coal ports and seabed to drill, the need for protection had only grown more urgent.
Well, that moment of promise is long gone. Turnbull's period in office has basically been a hostage drama. The bargain he made with powerbrokers rendered him captive to the party's most illiberal wing, and if his performance on climate, energy and marriage equality aren't evidence enough, last month's announcement that marine parks would be slashed beyond all recognition puts it beyond dispute.
The agents of inertia control his government. And what's worse he's looking like a hostage who's begun to identify with his captors. How else to explain his radical lurch backwards on parks? The draft management plans recently released for consultation by Josh Frydenberg don't just signify the gutting of the national system, they represent the largest removal of protection for Australian wildlife in our history. What the government is proposing is a nihilistic act of vandalism. Forty  million hectares of sanctuary will be ripped from the estate. That's like revoking every second national park on land. Under its new plan, 38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines. In total defiance of the scientific advice upon which the original system was designed, 16 marine parks will now have no sanctuary zones at all.
The science shows that partial or low-level protection simply doesn't work. What the government is putting forward will radically diminish protection of habitat. It will also undermine sustainable regional economic development. What began as a quest for excellence based on the best possible science is now so miserably degraded it's turned the greatest step forward in marine conservation into a regime that doesn't even aspire to be second-rate.
Draft management plans for Australian marine parks/reserves:
                                                                         



South-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves draft management plan

As one South Australian voter put it after reading about the Turnbull Government's intentions; FFS ! These guys are proof that there are no time machines. Otherwise someone from the future would come back and mulch the pr*cks. (quote supplied)

Voters in NSW North Coast electorates should be aware that:
* Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan supported this review and to date has never voted against his party’s position in the House of Representatives. Therefore it is highly likely that he will vote for any government bill which will reduce marine park and marine reserve protections.
*Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker supported this review and to date has never voted against his party’s position in the House of Representatives. Therefore it is highly likely that he will vote for any government bill which will reduce marine park and marine reserve protections.
* Labor MP for Richmond Justine Elliot does not support a reduction in marine parks and marine reserve protections.

Brief background


The Turnbull government has released draft management plans for the nation's marine parks that amount to an "unprecedented roll-back" of protections, a coalition of 25 environmental groups say.

The long-awaited draft plans were released on Friday and propose changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia's protected offshore regions expanded in 2012 by the Gillard government.

The area of marine parks open to fishing would jump to 80 per cent from 64 per cent now, if the changes were to pass through parliament, WWF-Australia said.

"This is a huge step backwards for marine protection," Richard Leck, WWF's head of oceans, said. "Australia used to be seen as a global leader in marine conservation. That will no longer be the case if these proposals are implemented."

Other proposed changes would strip Shark and Vema reefs of  marine national park status, while Osprey reef - one of the world's premier dive sites - has lost more than half its protection, Tony Burke, Labor's environment spokesman said.

"Five years ago, Labor make the second largest conservation decision in history. Today the Turnbull Government announced the largest undoing of conservation ever," Mr Burke said….

Of particular concern to the green groups is the Coral Sea Marine Park, where a substantial area previously given the maximum protection had been reduced……

Ms Grady said the government had chosen to ignore the science contained in independent reviews that backed the original zones.

"All Australians will be justifiably distressed to know that science evidence supporting an increase in protections for marine life has been thrown out the window," Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Australian governments continue to trip over their own hypocrisy


Crikey.com.au, 4 September 2017:

The forests of the Amazon basin are often referred to as the lungs of the Earth, nurturing life through rich, tropical biodiversity. Although often overlooked, it’s equally fitting to consider the jungles of the Asia-Pacific as the Earth’s heart. After all, they contain 20% of the world’s plant and animal species, and by some measurements make up six of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. Australia adds to the variety, with its wealth of native vegetation. Each one of these areas is unique and plays an integral part in the world’s interrelated ecological systems.

The positive news is that the international community recognises them as such. Last month marks the one-year anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Brunei-Darussalam, an initiative set up in 2014 to discuss the alarming rate of deforestation in the region.
In the last five years, Indonesia has overtaken Brazil to become the greatest forest-clearing nation in the world. South-east Asia more broadly has lost almost 15% of its forests over the last 15 years. Representing the Turnbull government at the summit, then-newly promoted Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg himself recognised the significance of these figures and declared that Australia was “committed” to rainforest protection throughout the Asia-Pacific.
A year on, Australia has appeared to take steps to support its Asian neighbours, such as contributing funding to assist in ending illegal logging. However, it is interesting to note that while the government seems to portray itself as one of the chief proponents in curbing international deforestation, land clearing remains hugely significant in Australia. In actual fact, the east coast of the continent is considered one of the worst deforestation areas in the world today.
http://www.wwf.org.au/news/news/2017/tree-clearing-causing-queenslands-greatest-animal-welfare-crisis#gs.lfpuVWc

Take a bow, the Turnbull Coalition Government, NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government, Victorian Andrews Coalition Government, Queensland Palaszczuk Labor Government and Tasmanian Hodgman Coalition Government – you are making Australia famous for all the wrong reasons. 

The Guardian, 7 September 2017:

Australia is rapidly losing its world-famous biodiversity. More than 90 species have gone extinct since European colonisation (including three in just the past decade) and more than 1,700 species are now formally recognised as being in danger of extinction.

Despite the pride many Australians feel in our unique natural heritage (and the billions of dollars made from nature-based tourism), the amount of federal funding for biodiversity conservation has dropped by 37% since 2013.

If a local industry or public institution experienced such a drastic funding cut, the people affected would petition their local representatives and the issue would be raised in parliament as a matter of local or national importance.

Threatened species cannot of course lobby government. But all threatened species on the land have at least one elected official who should take responsibility for them.

Threatened species as local constituents

A member of parliament’s primary job, besides being a party member and parliamentarian, is to speak up for local interests. Data from the Species of National Environmental Significance shows that every federal electorate contains at least one threatened species, so every single federally elected politician has a role to play in abating species extinction.

We’ve used that data to create a map that shows the number of threatened species in each federal electorate, along with details of the local MP and their party. It’s obvious from a glance that a handful of electorates contain most of Australia’s threatened species.


If you live in these electorates it's time to shame and name your MP at every opportunity.

Working for a GM-free future

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Are Berejiklian & Co attempting to pull an environmental sleight of hand on NSW communities who value their green and biodiverse landscapes?


On  23 November 2016 the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (repealing the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and the animal and plant provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974) became law.

On the same day the NSW Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 (repealing the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and amending the Local Land Services Act 2013 in relation to native vegetation land management in rural areas) also became law.

Currently the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has these documents on exhibition:
Regulations and other key products to support the Government's new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016, are on exhibition for six weeks from 10 May until 21 June.
Facts sheets and guides that provide detailed information on key topic areas are also available to assist you in making a submission.
Loud warning bells should be ringing in all ears – not least because the draft regulation document State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017 is nowhere to be found.
Instead there is a slick 22-page Explanation of Intended Effect booklet (highlighted in red) which is not worth the paper it is printed on at this point in time.

Why the Berejiklian Government assumes that it is best practice to place major policy change on exhibition with a crucial SEPP not yet drafted is unexplained.

Nor is there any indication as to why this as yet unformed vegetation SEPP is to be signed into government regulation in eleven weeks' time without voters having the opportunity to assess and comment on its precise provisions and wording. 

One has to suspect that the reason for such sleight of hand is that State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017 will contain a workaround for property developers to clear environmentally valuable native vegetation using the new permit system long before land comes before a council for consideration as the subject of a development application.

As the Explanation of Intended Effect now stands it appears that local government will have less control over clearing of native vegetation than it had in the past.
The Better Planning Network (BPN), a state-wide not for profit grassroots volunteer-based organisation, has also highlighted the following issues:

The detailed map of land classified as 'Environmentally Sensitive' is not publicly available.

- The map of Category 1 and Category 2 rural land (ie- land that can be cleared under self-assessable codes or otherwise) is not publicly available.

- The mapping of core koala habitat across NSW has not been completed (we are aware of only 5 NSW Councils that have identified core koala habitat under SEPP 44 Koala Habitat Protection.)

- The details of the Biodiversity Offsets Calculator are not publicly available.
It is impossible for the public to provide accurate feedback on the draft Regulations, Codes and SEPP without access to the above elements.  It is also irresponsible and risky for the Government to operationalise its legislation and regulations before these elements have been finalised. ​

On this basis, we urge you to contact the NSW Premier and the responsible Ministers (UptonRoberts and Blair) to ask them to: 
- ​Extend the public exhibition of all Regulations and Codes under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2017, as well as the Vegetation SEPP, until the components listed above are made publicly available.

​- ​Ensure that operation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2017 does not commence until all relevant mapping, included that listed above, has been completed and reviewed for accuracy by key stakeholders.

An analysis of the draft Regulations, Codes and SEPP has been provided though the Stand Up For Nature Submission Guide. We are preparing our own draft submission which we will circulate to you as soon as possible. However, accurate comment on the full package is not possible until all of the components listed above are made publicly available.

The Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDO) uploaded this video which walks through the documents on exhibition:



EDO 1 June 2017 seminar slides can be found here. Included in these slides is some advice on what to cover in submissions.

According to the EDO "There are some serious weaknesses" in these draft documents which are intended to become operational on 25 August 2017.

These include:

* Repeal of Native Vegetation Act and environmental standards that go with it, replaced with Codes
* Heavy reliance on flexible and indirect biodiversity offsets – weaker standards in the BAM and for biocertification
* Conservation gains aren't guaranteed in law, but dependent on funding decisions
* There is significant discretion for decision-makers
* Significant risk of policy failure

Locally one can add to this list the fact that Clarence Valley Council has stated:

A review of the draft Sensitive Biodiversity Values Land Map released by OEH reveals that it is missing areas of the Clarence Valley LGA which are known to contain habitat for threatened and critically endangered species or significant biodiversity value (for example core koala habitat identified in the Ashby-Woombah-Iluka koala plan of management, as well as significant areas of littoral rainforest and coastal wetlands).

Concerned residents can have their say until 21 June 2017 by:

Or writing to the Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms Office,
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232

NOTE

At least one local government, Clarence Valley Council, has requested an extension of time to make a submission on these reforms and to date this formal request has been met with deafening silence.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Of the 2,145 species studied forty-seven per cent of land-based animals and over twenty-three per cent of threatened birds may have already been negatively impacted by climate change


NATURE.COM, Nature Climate Change,  Letter, abstract, 13 February 2017:

Species’ traits influenced their response to recent climate change

Although it is widely accepted that future climatic change—if unabated—is likely to have major impacts on biodiversity12, few studies have attempted to quantify the number of species whose populations have already been impacted by climate change34. Using a systematic review of published literature, we identified mammals and birds for which there is evidence that they have already been impacted by climate change. We modelled the relationships between observed responses and intrinsic (for example, body mass) and spatial traits (for example, temperature seasonality within the geographic range). Using this model, we estimated that 47% of terrestrial non-volant threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23.4% of threatened birds (out of 1,272 species) may have already been negatively impacted by climate change in at least part of their distribution. Our results suggest that populations of large numbers of threatened species are likely to be already affected by climate change, and that conservation managers, planners and policy makers must take this into account in efforts to safeguard the future of biodiversity.


UPDATE

Climate Home, 21 February 2017:

Seaweeds, invertebrates, fish and giant, ethereal kelp jungles are among a group of more than one hundred species that are being driven towards extinction by warming waters around Tasmania, an Australian senate inquiry has heard.

Neville Barrett, a research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart, where the hearing was held, told the Environment and Communications References Committee that the waters around Tasmania were a global hotspot for warming.

“I mentioned that there were 100 or more species in general of kelps and endemic fishes and things that will probably disappear over the coming century, certainly by the turn of the next century under the current bottom end of predictions of climate change,” he told Climate Home after his appearance.

“There’s a whole lot of species on the southern end of Australia that are as far south as they can currently go and some of them are already pushed to their upper thermal limit, as far as summer temperatures will go.”

Beyond Tasmania, there is no major landmass until Antarctica, meaning many species have “nowhere else to go”, said Barrett.

One such species is the giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, the last stands of which Climate Home reported had been lost from Tasmania’s east coast in 2016.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Administrative Appeals Tribunal asked to rule on Humane Society International FOI request


Humane Society International v Department of the Environment and Energy

Our client, Humane Society International (HSI), is seeking access to documents held by the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy on the adequacy of NSW’s biodiversity offsets policy for major projects ('the Policy').
HSI argues that the public has a right to know why the Australian Government believes, despite evidence to the contrary, that the NSW Policy meets national standards. On behalf of HSI, we are asking the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to find that it is in the public interest to release the documents under Freedom of Information laws. 
Background
Biodiversity offsets have become standard practice in the approval and assessment of major developments in Australia, even though there is little evidence that offset schemes achieve their intended purpose of protecting threatened species from extinction.
Biodiversity offsets allow developers such as mining companies to buy/manage land, or pay money into a fund, to compensate for the clearing of forests and areas containing threatened plants and animals.
Community groups such as HSI are concerned that the method for calculating biodiversity offsets in NSW, contained in the NSW Policy, does not properly protect the environment – including the plants and animals on the national list of threatened species and ecological communities.
The Australian Government, which is responsible for the national list of threatened species – and has international obligations to protect and conserve biodiversity in Australia – has stated that the NSW Policy meets national standards of environmental protection. However, analysis by EDOs of Australia shows clearly that the NSW policy provides weaker environmental protection than required under national environment policies.
With the Australian Government delegating more and more development approval powers to the states and territories under its ‘one stop shop’ policy, community groups fear that there will be fewer protections for our nationally threatened species and ecological communities.
HSI is therefore seeking access to documents detailing the Australian Government’s analysis of the NSW Policy. Access to this information is vital for the public to have confidence that important environmental protections are not being eroded.
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