Vets for Climate Action welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission to the review of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
We recommended the Biodiversity Conservation Act becomes the overarching legislation to address all the drivers of biodiversity loss in NSW, through reference to all other pertinent legislation in the State, a requirement for research and education, and collaborative delivery and reporting. Specific recommendations include:
- In recognition of increasing threats to native flora and fauna, National Parks should be expanded where feasible and new National Parks developed to recognise all areas of national environmental significance and achieve maximum protection for endangered species. If their purpose in protecting and restoring biodiversity is to be successful, they need to be actively managed with adequate funding and staff.
- All development, large or small, should be accompanied by comprehensive surveillance of species biodiversity in the surrounding environment and the risk to the ecosystem accurately assessed before planning decisions are arrived at. This surveillance should be conducted by an independent body, with no link to the developer. The information collected will become part of the knowledge of biodiversity in the State and the Nation.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act should ensure developers are required to exhaust all means to protect the environment and biodiversity before entering into negotiation regarding offsets. The procedures for granting biodiversity offsets should have independent and transparent oversight to ensure such a scheme contributes positively to the protection of the environment and biodiversity.
- There needs to be more research in this country into improved agro-ecological practices that support food production while protecting biodiversity. This requirement for research should be included in the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
- The proposed legislation to prevent coal, gas, mineral and petroleum mining off the NSW coast must be progressed by the incoming NSW government and should be referred to in the Biodiversity Conservation Act once it has been enacted.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act should require stronger action by the NSW Government to reduce the risk of Climate Change, including climate adaptation strategies and a halt to new fossil fuel projects in the State.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act should require a ban on the logging of native forests to protect an essential ecosystem.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act needs to acknowledge the importance of groundwater systems, value their biodiversity and require ongoing surveillance to ensure protection.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act should acknowledge One Health and the critical need to protect the environment and biodiversity to support the health of all animals including humans.
- NSW has a range of legislation to control pollution. The Biodiversity Conservation Act needs to refer to that legislation, and require greater research into the prevention of pollution and removal of plastics and chemicals from the environment. Pollution control must be included in all Biodiversity reporting.
- The NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 refers to non-indigenous species and harm to biodiversity. We recommend cross reference to the Biosecurity Act within the Biodiversity Conservation Act. Furthermore, all work to manage and control invasive species in NSW should be included in regular Biodiversity reporting.
- The requirement for education and the development of Codes of Practice should be included in the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
- Enhanced scientific research, technological developments and monitoring capacities should be required under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
- In all places of the State, Aboriginal knowledge should be acquired through consultation and conversation. Their skills should be incorporated into biodiversity protection and conservation through their employment in National Parks and other valued environments.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act should require ongoing financial support for the collection of biodiversity data in recognition of its importance.
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act must require a regular public report on the state of Biodiversity in NSW. This reporting should encompass all actions referred to in our submission that are not currently included in the Act as well as those that are.
This submission would not have been possible without the time and energy of our volunteer Janet Berry. We send our thanks for your work on this important issue.
A copy of the submission is available here.