Recently I noted reports in the on-line daily, The Guardian, that Australia is likely to be releasing more emissions from deforestation than reported to the United Nations. In an article dated 22 March The Guardian reported that Australian government is ‘aggravating extinction’ through land-clearing approvals.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) compiled publicly available information on federal decisions that gave the green light to developments that involved clearing of forests and other areas relied on by threatened species.
It found levelling of more than 200,000 hectares of threatened species habitat was approved over the decade to the end of 2021. More than half of that total (120,000 hectares) had been approved in the five years since 2016.
ACF found nearly three-quarters of the clearing approved under national environment laws was for new and expanded mining developments. Dr Megan Evans, a lecturer and research fellow at the University of New South Wales, said the results of the investigation were not surprising.
Dr Evans said the federal government had no central record of how much threatened species habitat remained and officials relied almost entirely on information provided by developers when assessing proposals. Developments were routinely approved with a promise that offsets to limit their environmental impact would be decided later.
A spokesperson for the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley said $128.5m funding recently announced to “advance environmental law reform” would lead to better management of the cumulative impacts of developments in some areas by moving from project-specific to region-level assessment. It would also pay for a review of national offset strategies and improvements to data on threatened species, they said.
Last year the former competition watchdog head Graeme Samuel, released his review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The Samuel review found Australia’s natural environment is in decline and the EPBC Act is failing.
The current federal government’s response to the Samuel review has been entirely inadequate and the report by the ACF demonstrates its appalling track record in protecting habitat for threatened species. Urgent action is required to prevent further loss and to restore habitat.
Frank Breen, President
The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
How do candidates for election to the House of Representatives view environment and climate change issues?
Candidates for the federal seat of Bennelong will answer this at a public forum on Saturday, 7 May, from 2.30 to 3.45 p.m. in the Environmental Education Centre, Field of Mars Reserve, East Ryde (main entry from Pittwater Road, opposite Buffalo Creek Reserve).
Organised by the Ryde-Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society, the forum will be chaired by the Society's President, Frank Breen. Speakers from a broad political spectrum have indicated they will take part. After the speakers' presentations questions will be invited from the audience. The forum will be followed by afternoon tea at the nearby Visitor Centre, hosted by the Society. Everyone welcome! This is a free event, but donations to the Society would be welcome at the afternoon tea.
To register (for numbers) and for further information please email Alfred firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 9879 6067).
Clean Up Australia Day – Our event postponed
Heavy rain earlier in the morning made the area unsafe for this event to proceed; however, the public site at Magdala Park and Lane Cove River Walk did go ahead, with rain ending half an hour before the scheduled start. Attendance was considerably less than usual, but 21 members of East Ryde Scout Group and the Australian Conservation Foundation took part, collecting a dozen bags of rubbish. Interestingly, no Covid masks were found.
If you are interested in taking part in our Field of Mars site (for members only) on whichever day it is rescheduled, please contact our site coordinator Alfred on 9879 6067 or email email@example.com.
Other exciting events are planned for the coming months, and we will notify you of these by separate email when arrangements are finalised.
Tickets $2 each / 3 for $5 available at the Field of Mars Visitor Centre (when opened).
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.