RE: War on the environment nears crisis

Subject: RE: War on the environment nears crisis
From: (Andrew Taylor)
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 11:14:19 +1100
On Wed, Feb 19, 2003 at 08:01:59AM +1000, Terry Pacey wrote:
> I am afraid you neglected one of the greatest reasons for land clearing,
> namely the construction of housing estates and roads, etc.  Then, of course,
> most of those who live in the houses plant lawns and formal gardens.  I
> wonder where all the timber for house frames, etc comes from?  If it is not
> native timber then we are contributing to the destruction of forests in
> other countries.
> Of course, this is all necessary but the old adage of "people who live in
> glass houses shouldn't throw stones" applies when we criticise land
> clearing.  Those who live in tents or bush humpys and don't eat anything but
> native foods and walk everywhere are exempt.

Agricultural activitites occupy about 60% of Australia.  Urban areas
about 1%.  Clearing for housing estates is tiny compared to that for
agriculture, although it can still have impacts on biodiversity.

Open forest dominated by Angophora costata would have covered the
sandstone ridge where my house is inner Sydney (Glebe).  All the original
vegetation and hence most of the former bird species are gone from
my suburb.  This habitat is not very suitable for  agriculture and so
much remains elsewhere.  The bird species now absent from my suburb in
almost all cases still have large populations.

90% of NSW's population is concentrated in the coastal strip and no
doubt this has its impacts on biodiversity.  But west of the dividing
range where population density is low species such as Hooded Robin,
Brown Treecreeper, Grey-crowned Babbler are now scheduled as threatened.
Some of the land-clearing threatening these species is for  agriculture
which will feed and clothe people in the coastal strip but much of it
is for export, e.g.: sheep/wool  (60%), grain(85%), beef cattle(60%).

The amount of land occupied by different types of agriculture varies
greatly.  Australia export wine worth over $2 billion - about the same
value as sheep/wool exports in a non-drought year.  Wine uses one
thousand times less land than sheep.

You don't have to live in a humpy to reduce impacts in biodiversity.
Thousands of people per year are moving into units in the areas near me
in inner Sydney.  Little land and no (new) land clearing is involved.
Most won't own cars.  This trend certainly should be supported by the
government  with amenities that encourage people to make this choice -
not that its for everyone of course.

Andrew Taylor
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