Independent NSW MP Justin Field has today expressed alarm at the Liberal/National Government’s complete disregard for skyrocketing deforestation rates in NSW, primarily caused by agricultural land clearing which has spiked since the Government’s controversial land clearing laws came into force in 2017.
New data released yesterday by the Energy, Environment and Science Division of the NSW Government, and revealed in media reports today, showed that:
- 60,800 hectares of woody vegetation was cleared in 2018. This was a jump of 48% since 2017 when 58,000 hectares were cleared.
- The long term average of land clearing from 2009-17 was 38,800 hectares, illustrating a substantial increase since the NSW Government introduced its controversial land clearing laws in 2017 - see media reports.
- Of the 60,000 hectares of clearing about half of this was from agricultural land clearing (29,400 hectares)
- 73% of clearing was ‘unexplained’ meaning it was either considered by a landholder to not require any reporting to the Government, or it was illegal land clearing.
- The North West and Central West were the biggest contributors to land clearing and in particular the significant spike in ‘unexplained’ land clearing.
Mr Field said, “Here is yet another report showing the rampant deforestation that has occurred as a result of the National Party’s destructive biodiversity and land clearing reform.
"There is little wonder we face the extinction of the Koala in NSW if this level of deforestation is being allowed under the Berejiklian Government. If we are to take the Premier at her word that she wants to be the Premier who saves the Koala she is going to have to stop the massive deforestation in NSW.
"Earlier this year, a secret report by the Natural Resources Commission labelled NSW's land clearing laws as a “state-wide risk to biodiversity” with deforestation occurring at record levels. The Government blatantly ignored this report and has let deforestation spiral out of control.
"The "unexplained" clearing rates in this report suggest significant illegal clearing is going on in the North West and Central West of NSW. This unexplained clearing must be fully investigated and explained before Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, and the Environment Minister, Matt Kean, consider the new regional code that is being developed that risks even further “unexplained” clearing In the North West of the state.
“I’m also calling for the statute of limitations on prosecutions for illegal land clearing to be suspended until the public can be reassured that investigations and enforcement is able to proceed unhindered. It would be too easy for those landholders who have done the wrong thing to try to drag out the investigation process to avoid prosecution.