Showing posts with label protected species. Show all posts
Showing posts with label protected species. Show all posts

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Australian National Audit Office found the federal environment department has been ineffective in managing risks to the environment, that its management of assessments and approvals is not effective, and that it is not managing conflicts of interest in the work it undertakes


The Guardian, June 2020:

The government has failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws, a scathing review by the national auditor general has found.

The Australian National Audit Office found the federal environment department has been ineffective in managing risks to the environment, that its management of assessments and approvals is not effective, and that it is not managing conflicts of interest in the work it undertakes.

The report also finds a correlation between funding and staffing cuts to the department and a blow-out in the time it is taking to make decisions, as highlighted by Guardian Australia.

The review, which comes in advance of the interim report on Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, has prompted renewed calls for the establishment of an independent national environmental regulator.

It is the sixth audit of the department’s administration of the EPBC Act.

The report examined how effective the department had been in administering referrals, assessments and approvals under the Act, which is the main decision-making work for developments likely to have a significant impact on nationally significant species and ecosystems.

Despite being subject to multiple reviews, audits and parliamentary inquiries since the commencement of the Act, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s administration of referrals, assessments and approvals of controlled actions under the EPBC Act is not effective,” the report concludes.

Among its findings, the auditor found the department could not demonstrate that the environmental conditions it set for developments were enough to prevent unacceptable risk to Australia’s natural environment.

Of the approvals examined, 79% contained conditions that were noncompliant with procedures or contained clerical or administrative errors, reducing the department’s ability to monitor the condition or achieve the intended environmental outcome.

The report also found that a document the department is required to produce to show how the proposed environmental conditions would produce the desired environmental protections was in most cases not being written.

From a random sample of 29 approvals from 2015 to 2018, the auditor found this document had not been produced in 26 cases.

In further findings, the audit concluded:
  • environmental assessments were not being undertaken in full compliance with procedures and decisions were being overturned in court;
  • the department is failing to keep key documents related to its decisions;
  • the department has been failing to meet statutory timeframes for decisions. This has been markedly the case since 2014-15 when the number of decisions made within legal timeframes dropped from 60% to 5% in 2018-19. This correlated with cuts to staff in the department who could assess development proposals
  • the department is not properly monitoring if developers are meeting their environmental conditions;
  • briefing packages written by the department when assessing environmental management plans for developments did not contain any consideration of other statutory documents under the Act that are supposed to protect threatened species, including recovery plans;
  • the department has not established any guidance or quality control measures for assessing the effectiveness of environmental offsets. It also has not mapped where all of its approved environmental offsets are, meaning they cannot be properly tracked;
  • agricultural clearing is rarely being referred to the department for assessment under national law;
  • potential conflicts of interest are not being managed, despite the existence of sound oversight structures;
  • the average overrun of statutory timeframes for approval decisions in 2018-19 was 116 days.
This report is a scathing indictment of the federal government’s administration of our national environment law and highlights why we need a stronger law and a new independent regulator,” said James Trezise, a policy analyst at the Australian Conservation Foundation....

In advance of the interim report, due next week, the government has expressed a desire to streamline approvals and cut so-called “green tape”.

But environment groups said the audit confirmed Australia’s laws were “fundamentally broken”.

The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe said the findings showed a “catastrophic failure” to administer the law and protect the environment.

This report shows that the natural and cultural heritage that is core to Australia’s identity is being put at severe risk by the government’s unwillingness to fix problems they’ve been warned about for years,” she said.

It shows that even when the department is aware of high risks of environmental wrongdoing, like with deforestation from agricultural expansion, they are unwilling to act.

The Morrison government announced last week that they want to load this failed system up even further by slashing approval times in the name of slashing ‘green tape’. But this audit shows that the current system is not capable of making good decisions, let alone quick ones.”....

Note

Referrals, Assessments and Approvals of Controlled Actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 [the ANAO audit] can be found at 
https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/referrals-assessments-and-approvals-controlled-actions-under-the-epbc-act.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Evidence koalas still living in Iluka area in 2020


A koala in Iluka, December 2017

The Daily Examiner, 18 May 2020:

The words excited and elated aren’t often associated with the discovery of poo, but last week in Iluka they certainly were. 


The devastating impact of bushfires on the koalas across the North Coast has been well documented and teams continue to scour bushland to try to assess the impact on local populations. 

NSW National Parks has been at the forefront of the effort, undertaking bushfire recovery surveys with the help of local Landcare groups and volunteers. 

So when Iluka Landcare volunteer Jeff Thomas found a number of koala scats at the base of red gums in the area between Iluka Bluff Rd and Iluka, he was understandably excited. 

“I couldn’t wait to ring Kay Jeffery, president of the Iluka Landcare group, and tell her and the Landcare team the good news.” 

The find was significant as the area had been regenerated through years of hard work by the group to clear lantana and wattle which had been planted after sand mining ceased on the peninsula. 

“I was so excited when we found the scats, particularly in an area that has been ­restored,” Mr Thomas said. 

“It’s good to see all their hard work paid off.” The discovery was aided by Max, one of NSW National Parks’ canine recruits who has been specially trained to sniff out and find koala scats. 

Ms Jeffery was overjoyed to hear the news, as the Landcare veteran said it was the culmination of a vision. 

“I was absolutely elated to hear that all the hard work and careful planning 24 years ago had resulted in koalas ­inhabiting the site,” she said....

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Just a reminder that although the Australian Parliament is not regularly sitting during the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive to dismantle environmental protections continues apace


The Morrison Coalition Government, aided and abetted by the NSW Coalition Government and industry is pressing ahead with dismantling New South Wales environmental protections by omission & commission.

Here are just five examples.....

The Oops, my bad! Defence

The Age, 10 May 2020:

One of NSW's major thermal coal miners has admitted it submitted inaccurate figures on the carbon emissions impact of its fuel in an environmental declaration to the state government.

Centennial Coal stated in its submission for an extension of its Angus Place coal mine near Lithgow that burning its coal would produce 80 kilograms of carbon dioxide per tonne. Similar mines – including two of its own – actually cause 30 times more emissions, or 2.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of coal.

"Absolutely, we stuffed up," Katie Brassil, the company's spokeswoman said. "Our consultants got it wrong and so we got it wrong."

The assessment of emissions resulting from burning fossil fuels has become a sensitive one in NSW after approvals for two projects were rejected because of the impact of so-called Scope 3 or downstream emissions resulting from burning the product……

Don’t Look Here, Look Over There!

Channel 9 News, 9 May 2020:

A controversial plan for a US company to mine coal beneath a Sydney drinking water dam has been approved by the New South Wales state government while focus was on COVID-19.

Woronora reservoir, an hour's drive south of the CBD, is part of a system which supplies water to more than 3.4 million people in Greater Sydney.

The approval will allow Peabody Energy to send long wall mining machines 450 metres below the earth's surface to crawl along coal seams directly below the dam.

Dr Kerryn Phelps says the fact the decision was made "under the cover of coronavirus" is "unfathomable".

NSW has spent 12 of the last 20 years in drought, with record low rainfall plunging much of the state into severe water shortage last year.

"We know about the potential for catastrophe," Dr Phelps told 9News.com.au.

"We just cannot let this [decision] go unchallenged."…..

Washing Their Hands Of The Problems They Caused


Experts warn the Morrison government is not using its legal powers to protect wildlife from devastating bushfires, which killed billions of animals in the summer.

Under international law the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining the biodiversity of World Heritage Areas. Under federal law, it’s also responsible for protecting threatened species listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Act. But experts say the Commonwealth is yet to fulfil its responsibilities.


A wombat in the charred remains of a Kangaroo Valley bushfire.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS

Environment minister Sussan Ley has argued states and territories have "primary" responsibility for wildlife. But environmental law expert, University of Tasmania professor Jan McDonald, said the environment minister is legally obliged to work with states to prevent bushfire damage to threatened species and World Heritage Areas.
A spokesman for Ms Ley said "other than Commonwealth-managed National Parks [such as Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta], natural disaster preparedness and response planning is led by states and territories as part of their role as the primary regulators of Australia’s plants and animals."….

Rigging The Books

The Guardian, 8 May 2020:

The federal government has stopped listing major threats to species under national environment laws, and plans to address listed threats are often years out of date or have not been done at all.

Environment department documents released under freedom of information laws show the government has stopped assessing what are known as “key threatening processes”, which are major threats to the survival of native wildlife.

Conservationists say it highlights the dysfunctional nature of Australia’s environmental framework, which makes aspects of wildlife protection optional for government.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act is being reviewed, a once-a-decade requirement under the legislation, and there are calls for greater accountability rules to be built into Australia’s environmental laws.

It follows longstanding criticism that the act is failing to curb extinction.

An unacceptable excuse’

In a series of reports since 2018, Guardian Australia has uncovered multiple failures including delays in listing threatened species and habitats, threatened species funding being used for projects that do not benefit species, critical habitat not being protected, and recovery actions for species not being adopted or implemented.

The act lists threats such as feral cats, land clearing and climate change as key threatening processes that push native plants and animals towards extinction.

Once a threat is listed, the environment minister decides whether a plan – known as a threat abatement plan – should be adopted to try to reduce the impact of the threat on native species.

But a 2019 briefing document shows the department has stopped recommending the government’s threatened species scientific committee assess new key threatening processes for potential listing.

Addressing threats to nature ... should not be treated as a luxury
Evan Quartermain”

Among its reasons given is that the department has limited resources to support the work.

The document says key threatening processes have “limited regulatory influence” – that they have little effect – and the department has limited capacity to support assessments of them. Because of this, the department did not recommend any of the key threatening processes put forward “as priorities for assessment”….

Quick, Before They Notice!

The Guardian, 23 April 2020:

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, has flagged the government may change Australia’s national environment laws before a review is finished later this year.

Ley said she would introduce “early pieces of legislation” to parliament if she could to “really get moving with reforming and revitalising one of our signature pieces of environmental legislation”.

It follows business groups and the government emphasising the need to cut red tape as part of the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, and comes as the businessman Graeme Samuel chairs an independent statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. An interim report is due in June, followed by a final report in October.

When the review was announced, the government said it would be used to “tackle green tape” and speed up project approvals.

Environmental organisations have stressed the need for tougher environmental protections to stem Australia’s high rate of extinction. Australia has lost more than 50 animal and 60 plant species in the past 200 years and recorded the highest rate of mammalian extinction in the world over that period.

Ley said, with the interim report due by the middle of the year, she expected Samuel would “in the course of the review, identify a range of measures that we can take to prevent unnecessary delays and improve environmental standards”.

Where there are opportunities to make sensible changes ahead of the final EPBC review report, I will be prepared to do so,” she said.

On Thursday, Ley and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said work was already under way to speed up environmental assessments of projects and that the number of on time “key decisions” in the EPBC process had improved from 19% in the December quarter to 87% in the March quarter…..

An environment department spokesman said key decisions covered three items in the assessment process: the decision on whether a project requires assessment under the act, the decision on what assessment method will be used, and the final decision on whether or not to approve the project.....

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Losses in the 2019-20 NSW bushfires may exceed 70 per cent of the state's entire koala population


ABC News, 7 March 2020: 

Koala losses from recent NSW bushfires 'One of the most significant biodiversity impacts in our history' 

Authorities may have underestimated the extent of the impact of the bushfires on koalas on the North Coast, a New South Wales ecologist has said. 

Stephen Phillips, managing director and principal research scientist at Biolink ecological consultants, has been revisiting six previously-surveyed koala habitats between Forster and Ballina. 

The company was hired by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to undertake the first on-the-ground surveys in the area since the recent bushfires and is more than halfway through. 

"As part of the broader modelling that we're doing with fire, we're assuming a 70 per cent loss or — 70 per cent mortality rate," Dr Phillips said. "And current information suggests that, based on our field survey work, that the real answer is probably north of that somewhere. 

"So the losses are probably far bigger than what we've been modelling in." They are more than halfway through resurveying the sixth site and Dr Phillips said the story now seems "pretty consistent".

South of Port Macquarie this week they found little evidence of survivors. 

"Part of what we're doing here, we're looking beneath one of the most preferred koala food trees, which is called Tallowwood, and in raking around the bottom of this tree I've picked up a koala scat [faecal pellet]," Dr Phillips said. 

They are, however, still working through the 18 sites at Lake Innes, south of Port Macquarie. 

"One of the good things about this site is that the canopy scorch is mild, so that gives us some hope that there may be some survivors," Dr Phillips said. 

"I guess part of what we're doing now is trying to work out how much of this study area has been impacted and how many survivors there may be, but all evidence indicates its probably not going to be many." 

Area of special significance 

The site in Lake Innes was previously the subject of a successful translocation study

"So finding out what's happened to the population that we established and finding out it's future, whether it's going to survive, whether it's going to become part of a broader recovery program, is also what this is about," Dr Phillips said..... 

Read the full article here.

Friday, 6 March 2020

First turtle hatching on the New South Wales coast for 2020


Turtle hatchling
Image supplied

Turtlely cute hatchlings cause for shellabration

In eggciting news, the first hatchlings have emerged from one of eight turtle nests being monitored along the NSW coast by volunteers from the NSW TurtleWatch program.

The nest was laid at Port Macquarie in December and the hatchlings found during a nest inventory last week.

NSW TurtleWatch Project Officer Holly West said northern NSW beaches can provide important nesting habitat for green and loggerhead turtles, listed as vulnerable and endangered, respectively, in NSW.

“People should keep their eyes out from now until May for turtle hatchlings on north coast beaches.

“Our volunteers are like expectant parents at this time of year, eagerly awaiting signs our efforts have paid off.

“When we see those indications of hatchlings emerging from the nest, it’s an exhilarating feeling to think another lot of hatchlings have made it to the ocean.

“We did have some fears for the Port Macquarie nest after evidence of fox disturbance, but National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers undertook some preventative measures including installing predator mesh to deter digging.

“After a nest has hatched NPWS conduct a nest inventory that will give us vital information about the success of the nest. 

This information can be used to help future monitoring and conservation efforts. 

The Port Macquarie inventory revealed over 90% of hatchlings from more than 100 eggs made their way to the ocean.

“15 live hatchlings were uncovered during the excavation and released after sunset.

“This has been a great start for the NSW coast turtle hatching season and our volunteers stand watch over another 7 nests in the Tweed, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie areas.

“While we try to intervene as little as possible, we have worked with NPWS and council staff to give two nests a helping hand this year.

“One green turtle laid eggs on Manly Beach and we have relocated all 144 eggs from this nest to the Coffs Coast as they would not have survived in Manly due to the cool temperatures experienced there.

“Another nest laid on the Tweed Coast over the Australia Day weekend had to be relocated as it was laid below the high tide line.

“Fingers crossed we get some successful hatchlings from these and all of our other nests,” Ms West said.

To help hatchlings please remember to keep our beaches free from marine debris, sea turtles dig in the dark so keep lights low and keep your eyes peeled for hatchlings while walking the beach. 

If you see a hatchling on the beach, please contact Australian Seabird Rescue immediately on 02 6686 2852 or environment line 1300 361 967.

The NSW TurtleWatch program  is an initiative of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Saving our Species Program with Australian Seabird Rescue

It is a citizen science program involving volunteers collecting valuable data for marine turtles nesting in NSW and their potential threats.

To find out more or get involved with the NSW TurtleWatch Program e-mail turtlewatchnsw@gmail.com or visit NSW TurtleWatch for more information

Jacki Roberts
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Office of the Coordinator-General

Hatchling stragglers
Image supplied

Environmental Defenders Office analysis of the new planning policy for koalas in NSW finds legal safeguards flawed


Koalas are found in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales and are particularly vulnerable following the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season.

Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), 20 February 2020:


NSW planning policy for koalas falls short of the legal safeguards needed to protect the iconic animals and their habitats. 

By Cerin Loane, Senior Policy and Law Reform Solicitor, and Rachel Walmsley, Policy and Law Reform Director, Sydney 

A new NSW SEPP – State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 – is due to commence on 1 March 2020. With koala numbers having been in decline in NSW over the past two decades, a revised Koala SEPP had been highly anticipated as an opportunity to bolster legal protections for koalas. Frustratingly, the finalised Koala SEPP does little more than tinker around the edges. The fact remains that NSW laws fall far short of providing tangible protection for koalas. And with koala populations and their habitats significantly impacted by the summer’s devastating bushfires, it’s going to take more than just a few revisions to provide our koalas and their habitats the real legal protection they need.

The status of koalas in NSW 

Koalas are currently listed as a vulnerable threatened species in NSW, meaning there is a high risk of extinction in the medium-term.[1] Additionally, individual populations at Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens on the lower north coast, between the Tweed and Brunswick Rivers east of the Pacific Highway in the Northern Rivers area and within the Pittwater Local Government Area in northern Sydney are listed as endangered populations.[2

Accurately estimating koala numbers is difficult. Despite regulations, policies and community initiatives, overall koala numbers in NSW are in decline. In 2016, the NSW Chief Scientist relied on the figures of Adams-Hoskings et.al. in estimating approximately 36,000 koalas in NSW, representing a 26% decline over the past three koala generations (15-21 years).[3] We note however that other reports suggest koala numbers are even lower than this.[4

These estimates were made before the catastrophic bushfire events of this summer, which have been devastating for koalas, with estimates showing that more than 24% of all koala habitats in eastern NSW are within fire-affected areas.[5] Many people are asking how our environmental laws can help conserve and restore vulnerable wildlife at this time – this is something that EDO continues to look at as we start to move forward from the events of this summer (see our response to Australia’s climate emergency). 

A new state environmental planning policy is one legal tool intended to help koalas, but on our analysis the SEPP will remain largely ineffective in addressing the exacerbated threats currently facing them. It took just weeks for almost a quarter of koala habitat in NSW to be burnt in the bushfires, while it has taken the NSW Government 10 years to simply update the list of relevant koala habitat trees in the SEPP. The need for enforceable and effective laws is now more urgent than ever. 

Key changes to the NSW Koala SEPP[6

On 1 March 2020, NSW State Environmental Planning Policy No 44 – Koala Habitat Protection (SEPP 44)[7], which has been in place since 1995, will be repealed and replaced by a new State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 (new Koala SEPP).[8] SEPP 44 will continue to apply to development applications made, but not finally determined, before 1 March 2020.[9

SEPP 44 aims to protect koalas and their habitat, but its settings are weak and not targeted at the type or scale of projects with highest impact. Additionally, the problematic definitions of core koala habitat and potential koala habitat are adopted by other legislation (including the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act)), where they are used as a benchmark for triggering processes and regulation relating to land clearing and development assessment.[10

EDO has been calling for changes to SEPP 44 for the best part of a decade. In December 2010, EDO wrote to the Government on behalf of Friends of the Koala noting that SEPP 44 ‘is in urgent need of reform’.[11] In 2016, the Government announced a review of SEPP 44.[12] EDO made a submission on the Review of the Koala SEPP outlining our key concerns with its operation and making recommendations for improvement.[13] It wasn’t until fires began burning across the state late last year that the Government announced the release of the new Koala SEPP, just days before Christmas.

Despite recommendations that the Government consult on the text of a draft SEPP and any relevant guidelines or supporting material following its 2016 review, the final SEPP was made without any additional consultation; but it does address a number of stakeholder concerns. Most significantly, it updates the definition of ‘core koala habitat’ and removes the problematic concept of ‘potential koala habitat’, instead relying on mapping (a new Koala Development Application Map and new Site Investigation areas for Koala Plans of Management Map) to initially identify koala habitat. However, certain legal mechanisms still apply only to core koala habitat.[14

The new SEPP also updates the list of feed tree species in Schedule 2, used to help identify koala habitat, from 10 species to 123 species, categorised into 9 distinct regions. Other key changes include: 
  • Removing the requirement for site specific plans of management (in instances where a comprehensive Koala Plan of Management is not in place), instead requiring decision-makers to take into account new standard requirements in a Koala Habitat Protection Guideline. Concerningly, the Guidelines have not yet been seen, there are no formal requirements for developing the Guidelines (e.g. no requirements for community consultation or peer review) and the standards within the Guidelines are not mandatory – the new Koala SEPP requires only that they be taken into account. 
  • Moving provisions relating to how local environment plans and other planning instruments should give effect to protection to koalas from the SEPP to a new Ministerial planning direction (which is yet to be made).
Ongoing concerns 

There are also a number of key concerns that have not been addressed by the new Koala SEPP. For example: 
  • No areas of koala habitat are off-limits to clearing or offsetting – NSW laws do not prohibit the clearing of koala habitat. Despite declining koala numbers and the devastation caused by this summer’s fires, NSW laws still allow koala habitat to be cleared with approval. The new Koala SEPP simply requires decision-makers to ensure development approvals are consistent with koala plans of management (PoMs) or, if a PoM is not in place, that the (yet-to be-made) Guidelines are taken into account. If our laws are to truly protect koalas and their habitats then the approval process must not allow important koala habitat to be offset or cleared in exchange for money, in the way that the NSW Biodiversity Assessment Method does. Rather, all development that has serious or irreversible impacts on koala habitat must be refused. 
  • The requirement for councils to prepare Comprehensive Koala PoMs remains voluntary – Due to the slow uptake by councils (only 5 comprehensive PoMs have been finalised since SEPP 44 commenced in 1995),[15] EDO has previously recommended that the preparation of comprehensive koala PoMs (CKPoMs) be mandatory (i.e. the SEPP require that draft CKPoMs be prepared and exhibited within a particular timeframe). 
  • The new Koala SEPP still only applies to limited types of development – As was the case with SEPP 44, the new Koala SEPP still only applies to council-approved development. This means that the new Koala SEPP does not apply to the wide range of development and activities that can impact on koala habitat, including complying development, major projects (State significant development and State significant infrastructure), Part 5 activities (e.g. activities undertaken by public authorities) and land clearing activities requiring approval under the LLS Act. 
  • The 1 hectare requirement has not been removed – The arbitrary threshold of 1ha for triggering SEPP 44 has been carried over to the new Koala SEPP. Excluding sites below 1ha from the Koala SEPP leaves small koala habitat areas, particularly koala habitat in urban areas, without adequate protection. The 1 hectare requirement also contributes to cumulative impacts and can reduce connectivity across the landscape by allowing small patches to be cleared. 
  • Climate change considerations have been overlooked – The review of SEPP 44 provided an opportunity to incorporate requirements to identify and protect habitat and corridors that will support koalas’ resilience to more extreme heat and natural disasters, even if there is no koala population in those areas now, however there is nothing in the new Koala SEPP that specifically addresses climate change. 
  • Monitoring and compliance requirements have not improved – There are no new requirements relating to monitoring, review, reporting and compliance in the new Koala SEPP. 
The future for NSW koalas 

The new Koala SEPP highlights the overarching deficiencies in NSW laws to provide genuine protections for wildlife and nature. The way our laws are designed, very little is off limits to development or activities such as urban development, mining, and agriculture. While environmental laws provide processes for assessing environmental impacts, at the end of the day weak offsetting laws and discretionary decision-making powers allow destructive activities to go ahead to the detriment of our wildlife and natural resources. Contradictory policy settings in NSW laws mean that laws aimed at conserving biodiversity and maintaining the diversity and quality of ecosystems (such as the BC Act) are undermined by other legislation that facilitates forestry, agricultural activities and developments (such as the LLS Act, Forestry Act 2012 (Forestry Act) and Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act)). 

Many of the recent initiatives by the NSW Government to address koala conservation have focused mainly on funding and policy, without substantial legislative or regulatory reform to increase legal protections for koala populations and habitat. The new Koala SEPP is no exception. While some improvements have been made, particularly in relation to the definition of core koala habitat, overall many concerns remain and the Koala SEPP is unlikely to result in improved outcomes for koalas. 

Until our laws are strengthened to truly limit or prohibit the destruction of koala habitat, koala populations and their habitat will continue to be at risk and koala numbers will continue to decline in NSW, possibly to the point of local extinction. 

Footnotes 

[1] Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, s 4.4(3) 

[2] See www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=20300; www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10615 and www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10614 

[3] NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW, December 2016 above no 6, citing Adams-Hosking, C, McBride, M.F, Baxter, G, Burgman, M, de Villiers, D, Kavanagh, R, Lawler, I, Lunney, D, Melzer, A, Menkhorst, P, Molsher, R, et al. (2016). Use of expert knowledge to elicit population trends for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Diversity and Distributions, 22(3), 249-262. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12400 

[4] See, for example, Paull, D., Pugh, D., Sweeney, O., Taylor, M.,Woosnam, O. and Hawes, W. Koala habitat conservation plan. An action plan for legislative change and the identification of priority koala habitat necessary to protect and enhance koala habitat and populations in New South Wales and Queensland (2019), published by WWF-Australia, Sydney, which estimates koala numbers to be in the range of 15,000 to 25,000 animals. In 2018, the Australian Koala Foundations estimates koala numbers in NSW to be between 11,555 and 16,130 animals, see www.savethekoala.com/our-work/bobs-map-%E2%80%93-koala-populations-then-and-now 

[5] See Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Understanding the impact of the 2019-20 fires, https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/fire/park-recovery-and-rehabilitation/recovering-from-2019-20-fires/understanding-the-impact-of-the-2019-20-fires 

[6] See https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Environment-and-Heritage/Koala-Habitat-Protection-SEPP 

[7] See https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/EPI/1995/5 (Note – This link is unlikely to work after 1 March 2020, however the former SEPP will be able to be found on the NSW legislation website under repealed EPIs (environmental planning instruments)) 

[8] See https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/EPI/2019/658 

[9] State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019, section 15 

[10] As noted earlier in our submission, for example, for the purpose of the land management regime under Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013, category 2-sensitive regulated land (on which clearing is more strictly regulated) is to include ‘core koala habitat’.

[11] EDO NSW Submission on State Environmental Planning Policy No 44 – Koala Habitat, December 2010, available at https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/edonsw/pages/3547/attachments/original/1485908888/Attachment_A_-_2010_EDONSW_SEPP_44_Submission_for_FOK.pdf?1485908888 

[12] See https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/State-Environmental-Planning-Policies-Review/Draft-koala-habitat-protection-SEPP 

[13] See https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/edonsw/pages/3547/attachments/original/1485908884/170131_Koala_SEPP_44_Review_Submission_-_FINAL_to_DPE.pdf?1485908884 

[14] For example, under clause 9 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019, which applies to development on land for which no PoM is in place, the Guidelines will not apply if a suitably qualified and experienced person provides information that the land is not core koala habitat. 

[15] There are only approved plans for five council areas, and a further nine Councils who have drafted or undertaken koala habitat studies See https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/koala/koala-conservation

IF NORTH COAST VOICES READERS WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A MODEST DONATION TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE THEY CAN DO SO AT: 

https://www.edo.org.au/help-us-become-a-formidable-force-for-justice/