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Vegetation changes in NSW point to an out of control land clearing...

Australian Greens

Alarming new data shows that the NSW Government has lost control of land clearing in NSW with the annual clearing rates up 47% since the introduction of new land clearing codes in 2017. More than 500,000 hectares of land clearing was approved by the Liberal National Government between 2017 and 2020 and more than 224,700 hectares of woody vegetation was cleared in the same period. The Liberals are being held hostage on land clearing by The Nationals and are unfit to manage land tenures in NSW. 

Greens MP Sue Higginson and spokesperson for the environment and agriculture said “Land clearing is a primary driver of climate change and the extinction crises. Clearing of vegetation in agricultural areas does not increase production and in fact can lead to decreased output and land management outcomes,” 

“Since the changes in 2017 were introduced the clearing conducted on agricultural lands has been more than twice the long term average. This most recent data indicates that vegetation lost on agricultural lands has returned to an approximate of the long term average but 75% of it is still unaccounted for and a shocking 52% of woody vegetation loss is unexplained,” 

“The fact that the Government cannot explain where 75% of vegetation lost on agricultural land comes from is a clear indication that land clearing is still out of control across NSW and that the Government is failing to regulate land management,” 

“The total loss of vegetation on agricultural lands since the reforms is shocking, although there has been a reduction in 2020, the total lost since the reforms still adds up to a significant portion of the total land,” 

“There has been a big jump in woody vegetation lost to forestry, much of this has come from plantation pine in state forests. Most of this has likely come from salvage operations following the 2019/2020 bushfires but the report has excluded fire affected areas which raises questions about salvage operations that were conducted in native forests,” 

“Fire affected areas were excluded because of the potential for forest recovery to take place but we know that salvage logging was undertaken in these burnt state forests and there is strong evidence that these operations mean that recovery will be much slower and potentially impossible,” 

“The reduction in native forest logging in State Forests is mostly offset by the increase in private native forestry and we know that private land tenures have a very finite area that will be made available to the forestry industry. Native forestry is coming to an end whether The National want it to or not,” 

“The Government has already walked away from their commitment to 3 year review of the new land clearing codes, a promise that was made in 2016 when the new framework was legislated. This raises the question of whether the Liberals are unwilling or unable to stand up to the Nationals in Government when it comes to out of control land clearing,” Ms Higginson said. 

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