Re: landclearing - and the future of birds in nsw

Subject: Re: landclearing - and the future of birds in nsw
From: "Carmel Flint" <>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 14:48:49 +1100

At the outset of the message I referred people to two websites for
more detailed information.  I tried to send additional information to
this list but it didn't accept it, as it is too large.

So, I refer you again to that information on those websites, and I
would have preferred that you referred to them yourself and digested
them, before suggesting to the list that my post was misleading.
( and It also referred you
directly to the documents that were on public exhibition.

Given the serious nature of the matters that are at issue, I am in
fact quite astonished by your response.  Without putting too fine a
point upon it, I think your unsubstantiated claim that the
regulations 'will end broadscale landclearing' does exactly what you
accuse me of doing - take a poorly informed position on a complex
issue.  And it is more dangerous, because it promotes the idea that
everythings fine, and people need take no action on this very
important matter.  Do you have any websites or more detailed
information to refer us to??

Summarising hundreds of pages of regulations and assessments into one
page that the person on the street can relate to and respond to
obviously requires simplification, and I don't think a little bit of
simplification is a reason to ignore the potentially major problems
that are at issue.  The details of Native Vegetation laws and
regulations are not something that every layperson can get their head
around, let alone critique in a detailed or informed manner.
Conducting such critiques, without fear or favour, is one of the
important roles of environmental organisations.

As to the charge of misleading people, I would like to point out that
at no point did the submission points state that offsets would be
granted without any assessment.  It only said that offsets 'CAN BE
USED' to gain approval to legally clear another area of remnant
vegetation.  Which is the case.  If you go the additional information
referred to, you will find that it discusses the assessment
methodology that is used to assess offsets and clearing proposals,
and identifies the problems with it.

'Green groups' (by which i presume you mean environmental
organsiations) have never supported the Regulation.  It has only just
been released.  However, environmental groups did support the
Governments promise to end broadscale landclearing, and did support
the introduction of the Native Vegetation Act 2003.  But if the
Regulation does not implement that promise, they will not support it.

The major loopholes and flaws are explored in full in the websites
that I referred you to and include the following:

The definition of regrowth is ambiguous, and the identification of
regrowth and remnant therefore unenforceable.  This is likely to lead
to remnant being cleared as regrowth on a large scale, and clearing
of regrowth does not require any environmental assessment.
Rotational farming practices can be used to change the regrowth date
from 1990 back to 1950.  The definitions and constraints on it are
inadequate, and there are no evidentiary requirements, and the end
result will be that it allow much older vegetation to be cleared
without environmental assessment, on potentially a very large scale.
The constraints on Routine Agricultural Management Activities are
inadequate, and can be used cumulatively to have a big impact on
vegetation.  Again, without any environmental assessment.
The methodology for determining whether groundcover can be cleared
without environmental assessment is transparently inadequate.
Existing cultivation consents continue as an exemption until the end
of 2007.
The 'offsets' are based on management actions such as fencing,
weeding, replanting etc that may not deliver conservation outcomes
for generations, if ever, but the approval to clear is granted now.
Furthermore, the offsets are not secured in perpetuity, because a
Property Vegetation Plan can be terminated by the Minister, and the
protection of the offsets will be terminated with it.  It does not
attach directly to title.

I could go on and on.  Please refer to the documents.  The major
failing of the last native vegetation act in NSW was the clearing
that was done under exemptions to the Act - ie clearing done without
any assessment.   The first five points above are all examples of
such 'exemptions' that are open to widespread abuse under the current
Regulation.  Unless they are drastically improved and the problems
with them fixed, and key provisions are made clear and enforceable,
then there is every reason to believe that the Regulation will allow
broadscale clearing to continue.

I have spoken to numerous scientists inside and outside Government,
and many conservationists, on this issue, and there is general
agreement from those that have been working on this issue for 10
years that there are big problems with the current draft of the


On 9 Dec 2004 at 11:59,  wrote:

> The draft Regulation and other documents will not deliver on the
> Governments promise to end broadscale landclearing for the following
> reasons:
> Ø There is no ban on clearing of remnant vegetation. Instead, a
> system of offsets has been introduced which will mean that putting a
> fence around one patch of remnant vegetation can be used to gain
> approval to legally clear another area of remnant vegetation.
> Ø In addition, there are numerous loopholes and flaws that will allow
> extensive clearing without any environmental assessment or approvals
> being required. Added to this is the fact that core provisions are
> essentially unenforceable.
> I think the above is a bit simplistic and, perhaps, even a bit
> misleading. If you are interested in this subject I suggest you do a
> bit of research rather than accepting the opinion of others
> (including myself). It's interesting that some green groups are not
> happy with the new regulations, particularly as they supported them
> not so long ago. It seems they have something in common with the
> farmers who are also not happy.
> The new system is not a perfect one but I think it will deliver an
> end to broadscale land clearing in NSW. Why? Because the system in
> place to deliver the offsets mentioned above (through Property
> Vegetation Plans) requires the farmer to work through a series of
> processes before the Dept of Infrastructure & Natural Resources
> (DIPNR) can give the green (or red) light to the development. To say
> that putting a fence around one patch of remnant veg will allow
> another patch to be cleared is reducing the case to it's simplest. A
> number of conditions must be met before such an offset is allowed.
> The farmers aren't happy because they can see that these conditions
> are going to be very difficult to meet and that, in essence,
> broadscale land clearing will cease.
> I'm not sure what the loopholes and flaws mentioned above are. It
> would be nice if these loopholes and flaws were explained rather than
> just expecting one to accept that they exist.
> The impacts from clearing native vegetation are severe and many are
> irreversible - the destruction of wildlife and habitat, erosion,
> widespread salinity, the release of greenhouse gases, and the
> extinction of species. And yet this regulation gives more of the
> same and will not solve the problem of landclearing.
> The clearing of native vegetation, along with the lack of
> regeneration, is a major issue in the long term survival of our
> birds. It is the primary reason why Regent Honeyeaters (and many
> other woodland birds) are now endangered. The new regulations are
> far from perfect but I think they will fulfil one thing, the end to
> broadscale land clearing in NSW. What I think may happen in the
> future is that the system proposed will be overhauled to make it more
> workable. The one advantage of this is that it will allow those
> interested in the conservation of our woodlands to get their head
> around the problem and come up with some workable solutions.
> Cheers
> David Geering
> This message is intended for the addressee named and may contain
> confidential information.
> If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender and
> then delete the message. Views expressed in this message may be those
> of the individual sender, and are not necessarily the views of the
> NSW Department of Environment and Conservation.

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