Farmers warm to native vegetation review
NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said the independent review of biodiversity report released in December included some encouraging recommendations that could change the way native vegetation is regulated in the state.
Ms Simson said the report could be the catalyst for the single biggest shift in policy direction on the issue of biodiversity in NSW for a long time.
The report contained 43 recommendations for significant change, including repealing the Native Vegetation Act and other legislation that had been plaguing farmer productivity for decades.
The report recommends a shift in focus to a bioregional scale - a shift from the current individual property and plant scale - which could mean more flexibility for farmers.
It also recommends a streamlining of development assessment where land use change can occur, which places farming development on an even playing field with other types of development.
Ms Simson said she welcomed the recommendations which could enable farmers to obtain offsets through the biodiversity offset fund - something the association had been advocating on for some time.
The recommended offset approach will enable farmers to not only supply offsets, but purchase them as well - a welcome shift from the current methodology which left a lot of farmers with limited options to supply offsets only.
"We are also encouraged to see farmers recognised as responsible custodians of our land who have a direct interest in looking after the environmental values of the landscape," Ms Simson said.
"This sentiment reflects what we know at NSW Farmers and one which has been behind our advocacy for reform on native vegetation for nearly a decade.
"We look forward to seeing how the government implements these recommendations because this will be the test - seeing how they work on the ground with the realities of farming practice. If they don't work for farmers then all stakeholders suffer, but more importantly, our environment could suffer."