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

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Australia cannot afford a third term Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government


The continuous prevarication and callous disregard for any policy which might provide a sustainable future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren makes the Liberal and National political parties a danger to us all.........

The Guardian, 9 May 2019:

Scott Morrison’s office has declined to say what legislation he was referring to when he said he had “been taking action” on a landmark UN report about the extinction of a million different species.

On Monday, the UN released a comprehensive, multi-year report that revealed human society was under threat from the unprecedented extinction of the Earth’s animals and plants. The agriculture minister, David Littleproud, said the report “scared him”, during a debate on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Morrison responded to the report saying: “We already introduced and passed legislation through the Senate actually dealing with that very issue in the last week of the parliament. We’ve been taking action on that.”

However, no legislation regarding animal conservation or the environment passed in the last week of parliament.

When asked what the legislation was, the prime minister’s office did not reply. The office of the environment minister, Melissa Price, also did not respond when asked what legislation Morrison was referring to.

The only legislation regarding animals that passed within the last few months is the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017, which set new regulations on testing cosmetics on animals.

However, it was passed by both houses on 18 February – not in the last week of parliament, which was in April.

Neither the prime minister nor the environment minister responded to clarify if this was the bill Morrison was referring to, or whether he made an error.

Tim Beshara, the federal policy director of the Wilderness Society, said Morrison appeared to have “alluded to a bill that doesn’t exist”.

 “The last bill to pass the Senate from the environment portfolio was about changing the board structure of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2018,” he said.
“It looks like the prime minister of Australia is so desperate to move the debate off the environment as an issue that he has alluded to a bill that doesn’t exist so that journalists would stop asking questions about it.”…..

On Wednesday, Morrison also railed against the expansion of environmental regulations, calling them “green tape”.


“[Labor] want to hypercharge an environment protection authority which will basically interfere and seek to slow down and prevent projects all around the country,” he said.

Beshara said the timing of this with the mass extinction report showed “excellent comedic timing”.

“What he is calling ‘green tape’, most Australians would call basic environmental protections,” he said. “I don’t expect the prime minister to know their numbats from their bandicoots, but I do expect them to know what bills their government has passed, and to respond to a globally significant UN report like this with the seriousness it deserves.”

The Guardian, 9 May 2019:

Most clearing of Australian habitat relied on by threatened species is concentrated in just 12 federal electorates, nine of which are held by the Coalition, an analysis has found.

University of Queensland scientists found more than 90% of the threatened species habitat lost since the turn of the century has been in six electorates in Queensland, two each in NSW and Western Australia and one in Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Most of the land-clearing in Queensland has been to create pasture.

The study, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, was released following a United Nations global assessment that found biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with one million species at risk of extinction. The report warns the decline in native life could have implications for human populations across the globe.

Threatened species habitat loss, by federal electorates
Showing the percentage of habitat loss used by threatened species

Source: ACF





The research found the greatest loss of threatened species habitat had been in the agriculture minister David Littleproud’s electorate of Maranoa, in southern Queensland. Nearly two million hectares, or 43%, has been cleared since 2000, when the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was introduced. Among the 85 threatened species affected are the koala, the greater bilby, the black-throated finch and the long-nosed potoroo.

Maranoa is followed on the list by Kennedy, home to the maverick independent Bob Katter, the Liberal Rick Wilson’s Western Australian seat of O’Connor and Capricornia, a marginal electorate held by the LNP’s Michelle Landry.

The environment minister Melissa Price’s vast electorate of Durack, which covers nearly two-thirds of Western Australia, is seventh, with more than 300,000 hectares lost.

Other seats on the list are Flynn, Parkes, Leichhardt, Lingiari, Farrer, Dawson and Lyons.

James Watson, the director of the university’s centre for biodiversity and conservation science, said Australia was sleep-walking through a worsening extinction crisis.

“These results show the laws we have to protect our wonderful natural heritage are not working and that is a significant failure of government,” he said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature policy analyst, James Trezise, said the next Australian government must invest in the recovery of threatened species and introduce strong environment laws overseen by an independent national regulator if it was serious about reversing the decline in native wildlife…..

Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world over the past 200 years. It is considered one of 17 “megadiverse” countries, which share just 10% of global land but 70% of biological diversity. A green group study found funding to the national environment budget has been reduced by a third since the Coalition was elected.

Habitat loss on the NSW North Coast

Richmond electorate held by Labor MP Justine Elliot - 710 ha loss
Page electorate held by Nats MP Kevin Hogan - 16,725 ha loss
Cowper electorate held by Nats MP Luke Hartsuyker until April 2019 - 5,159 ha loss
Lyne electorate held by Nats MP David Gillespie - 6,181 ha loss

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

UN-UNESCO Global Assessment Report: "The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being."


Smithsonian.com, 6 May 2019:

Our world is losing biodiversity, and fast. According to a report released today by the United Nations, up to one million species could face extinction in the near future due to human influence on the natural world. Such a collapse in biodiversity would wreak havoc on the interconnected ecosystems of the planet, putting human communities at risk by compromising food sources, fouling clean water and air, and eroding natural defenses against extreme weather such as hurricanes and floods.

In the sweeping UN-backed report, hundreds of scientists found that biodiversity loss poses a global threat on par with climate change. A 40-page “Summary for Policy Makers” was released in advance of the full report, which is expected to be published later this year and span nearly 2,000 pages. The document calls the rate of change in nature “unprecedented” and projects that species extinctions will become increasingly common in the coming decades, driven by factors such as land development, deforestation and overfishing.

“The basic message is the same as what the scientific community has been saying for more than 30 years: Biodiversity is important in its own right. Biodiversity is important for human wellbeing, and we humans are destroying it,” Robert Watson, the former chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that produced the report, said during a press conference on Monday.

To produce the report, 145 biodiversity experts plus hundreds of other contributors compiled information over three years from 15,000 sources. For years, scientists have been sounding the alarm about biodiversity’s dramatic decline in what some have dubbed the world’s sixth mass extinction event. This die-off, however, differs from the other five in its central cause: humans.

As the global assessment confirms, human activity is a major driver of biodiversity decline among the millions of species on Earth. The report ranks some of the top causes of species loss as changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms (like hunting or fishing), climate change, pollution and invasive alien species (often introduced by human travel across ecosystems). The current global rate of species extinction is already “at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years,” and it’s expected to keep accelerating.

All in all, human action has “significantly altered” about 75 percent of the world’s land environment and 66 percent of its marine environment, according to the report. Insect populations have plummeted in tropical forestsgrasslands are increasingly drying out into deserts, and pollution along with ocean acidification is driving many coral reef ecosystems to the brink.

The destruction of biodiversity at all levels, from genes to ecosystems, could pose significant threats to humankind, the report says. In addition to affecting human access to food resources, clean water and breathable air, a loss of species on a global scale could also clear a path for diseases and parasites to spread more quickly, says Emmett Duffy, a biodiversity expert with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center who contributed to the report.

“Historically, a lot of us have thought about conservation and extinction in terms of charismatic animals like pandas and whales,” Duffy says. “But there’s a very strong utilitarian reason for saving species, because people depend on them. There’s an environmental justice aspect.”

The effects of biodiversity loss won’t be distributed equally, either, the researchers found. The most devastating impacts would disproportionately affect some of the world’s poorest communities, and the report concludes that the decline in biodiversity undermines global progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, milestones set by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 to reduce global inequality…..

Important aspects of the Global Assessment
Building upon earlier IPBES assessment reports, especially the recently-released Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment and the Regional Assessment Reports for Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe and Central Asia (March, 2018), the Global Assessment:
• Covers all land-based ecosystems (except Antarctica), inland water and the open oceans
• Evaluates changes over the past 50 years — and implications for our economies, livelihoods, food security and quality of life
• Explores impacts of trade and other global processes on biodiversity and ecosystem services
• Ranks the relative impacts of climate change, invasive species, pollution, sea and land use change and a range of other challenges to nature
• Identifies priority gaps in our available knowledge that will need to be filled
• Projects what biodiversity could look like in decades ahead under six future scenarios: Economic Optimism; Regional Competition; Global Sustainability; Business as Usual; Regional Sustainability and Reformed Markets
• Assesses policy, technology, governance, behaviour changes, options and pathways to reach global goals by looking at synergies and trade-offs between food production, water security, energy and infrastructure expansion, climate change mitigation, nature conservation and economic development
What the CSIRO and climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au state about coastal New South Wales:

KEY MESSAGES

·         Average temperatures will continue to increase in all seasons (very high confidence).
·         More hot days and warm spells are projected with very high confidence. Fewer frosts are projected with high confidence.
·         Decreases in winter rainfall are projected with medium confidence. Other changes are possible but unclear.
·         Increased intensity of extreme rainfall events is projected, with high confidence.
·         Mean sea level will continue to rise and height of extreme sea-level events will also increase (very high confidence).
·         A harsher fire-weather climate in the future (high confidence).
·         On annual and decadal basis, natural variability in the climate system can act to either mask or enhance any long-term human induced trend, particularly in the next 20 years and for rainfall.


At its ordinary monthy meeting of 23 April 2019 Clarence Valley Council passed the following resolution:



Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Valley Watch urgent message to Clarence Valley residents about saving Lawrence koala habitat


Koala habitat within Larwence village streets


Valley Watch Inc has sent this email out…….

Hi everyone brief history and response from Essential Energy below.  

Upgrade and change of route required due to safety (currently passing over someone's house).  Project planned then needed to change route as an underground water main was identified in their proposed route.  New route chosen and vegetation clearing increased from two trees and trimming to approx. 28 trees & shrubs being cleared in a known koala corridor.

Thanks to Community who raised concerns and attended special meeting where they presented new route that could be considered.  As per email below we need to ensure Essential Energy hear there is large community support for protecting koala habitat.

Please telephone and email Raelene Myers at Essential Energy.

Thanks

----- Forwarded message -----
From: Linda redacted]
Sent: Friday, 5 April 2019, 05:06:11 pm AEDT
Subject: save Lawrence koala habitat

Hi everyone,

At the end of an information session today in Grafton, led by Essential Energy Community Liaison Officer Raelene Myers, the Essential Energy staff told the assembled concerned Lawrence and wider Clarence Valley residents, after much discussion, that they will now put the plan to relocate some poles and wires to an area that would involve koala habitat destruction on hold, while they examine an alternative route that would not. 

The alternative route was put forward by meeting attendees. The plan attached shows the existing route in green, the habitat-destroying route in orange, and the non-habitat-destroying route in red.

Raelene has undertaken to keep updated people who let her know they want to be. Our best chance of saving the koala habitat now is to get as many people as possible to contact her and let her know we are in favour of the non-habitat destroying route and want to be kept updated. Her contact details are below.

Please pass this information on to anyone you think might care.

Regards,

Linda


T: 02 6589 8810 (extn 88810) M: 0407 518 170
PO Box 5730 Port Macquarie NSW 2444
General Enquiries: 13 23 91



UPDATE

The Daily Examiner, 10 April 2019, p.5:

Clarence Valley councillor Greg Clancy said the the proposal would result in the removal of a number of trees and put at risk the koala population in the area.

“We think they could reroute the power lines a different way to reduce the number of trees that would need to cut down,” he said. “I think it’s going to push the local population further towards extinction"

Mr Clancy said despite the relatively small number of trees marked for removal, the frequency with which koalas could be found in them meant they should be saved.

“I was out there the other day with a representative from Essential Energy and there was a koala in one of the marked trees,” he said.

“The point is the koalas are always in these trees and there is a lot of habitat they may not find as suitable. You need to rely on where the koalas are, not where they might be.”

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.