VOICES FOR THE EARTH: New bill to abolish existing acts

WE understand that the NSW Government is shortly expected to release its new NSW Biodiversity Conservation Bill which is widely tipped to significantly reduce environmental protection.

The Bill will abolish several existing Acts including the Native Vegetation Act, which is accredited with virtually halting broad-scale land clearing in NSW, and protecting over 4 million hectares of forest.

It also allowed the Australian Government to negotiate a very favourable outcome from the Kyoto Agreement to offset our ongoing export of carbon emissions (coal) across the globe.

I'd like to take readers back 20 years to 1996, and draw attention to the "National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity", signed by the heads of all States and Territories, which opens with an explanation that: "The Convention on Biological Diversity, was ratified by Australia on 18 June 1993, and deals at a global level with the full range of biological diversity conservation, its sustainable use, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from this use".

That Strategy goes on to explain that: "Maintaining biological diversity is much more than just protecting wildlife and their habitats in nature conservation reserves. It is also about the sustainable use of biological resources and safeguarding the life-support systems on Earth.

The benefits of conserving biological diversity are numerous. Biological diversity is the primary source for fulfilment of humanity's needs and provides a basis for adaptation to changing environments. An environment rich in biological diversity offers the broadest array of options for sustainable economic activity, for nurturing human welfare and for adapting to change.

The world's species provide us with all our food and many medicines and industrial products. For example, the fishing, forestry, and wildflower industries rely on the harvest of biological resources from the wild.

In short there is the admission that, without biodiversity, life on Earth cannot exist. So whatever happened to those lofty ideals?

- John Edwards, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition

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