On 22/7/98, David Geering wrote:
"A two pronged approach is needed. Reduce the amount of unnecessary
clearing where it is occurring in order to prevent more species going into
decline while repairing those areas that were cleared in the past in an
effect to shore up what we have left in these very fragmented habitats."
Could someone define 'unnecessary clearing' - and its compatriot 'necessary
clearing' - for me?
Also, there seems to be little dispute that a two-pronged approach is
required, but I have a few thoughts on the relative emphasis given to the
prongs. In Victoria, the introduction of regulatory controls reduced the
rate of clearing by 85% overnight. Australia-wide, that would amount to
many hundreds of thousands of hectares a year. All for the (once-off) cost
of little more than a few lawyers for a couple of months. Now I know
lawyers don't come cheap, but there can be little doubt that the amount of
money spent on replanting programs every year vastly exceeds the cost of
the lawyers, and the area planted is probably in the thousands of hectares
and it will be at least several decades before the plantings approach the
ecological integrity of most of the bush that is cleared.
Clearly, good regulatory controls on clearing are several orders of
magnitude more efficient than replanting. Perhaps, then, it would be
appropriate if the number of people lobbying for clearing controls was
several orders of magnitude greater than the number of people replanting.
So arrange meetings with and write letters to politicians and do not be
afraid to remind them that the 1996 National State of the Environment
Report, prepared by some of Australia's most eminent scientists, suggested
that biodiversity decline was probably Australia's "most serious
environmental problem" and that land clearing is the greatest threat to
biodiversity (not foxes, not birdwatchers with spotlights, not a shortage
of newly planted trees). It's that simple.