Premier Colin Barnett's opinion of the current legislative framework for environmental management was stated clearly in several news items and in context of environmental legistlation discussed at COAG and the retirement of Dr Bob Brown from the role of Leader of the Greens. The Premier was quoted as saying: "endless requirements for repetitive, detailed environmental assessments of projects are a huge drain on resources and intellect for fairly minor issues" The Weekend West April 14-15 2012, p4
It is time that Premier Barnett started speaking for the long term public interest of the whole State of WA, not just vested interests of developers and miners.
A visionary leader would recognise and cherish the unique natural assets of our ancient WA landscapes.
What an opportunity right now to see the elegant displays of red flowering Banksia menziesii in our Banksia woodlands all around Perth suburbs. A living natural museum which shows us a chapter in the story of evolution of the landscape we are privileged to live in.
It is an ancient but fragile landscape and we as a society have a duty to retain its richness for the health of nature itself and all of us - for fresh air, for our health and well being.
Yes Mr Barnett, the Commonwealth has legitimate environment powers which are being used because the State Government has only a useless one hundred year old Act which fails us all. We urgently need a new Biodiversity Conservation Act which respects, protects and maintains the natural assets of WA - its unique geology, soils, geomorphology flora fauna and fungi- like no other place on earth.
We want to keep it that way for future generations and for our own health and well-being.
New Biodiversity Act now urgent
WA's key legislation is the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 is now more than 60 years old.
It has been recognised for years that conserving biodiversity requires new (and better) legislation. For example, the current Act does not have a process for listing and recovering threatened species; nor does it provide any protection for fauna habitat.
No wonder the very survival of our iconic Black Cockatoos is threatened. Their habitat (including designated 'critical habitat') is being cleared and lost due to Government inaction and major deficiencies in biodiversity conservation legislation.
Read the June 2009 Auditor General's Report (Rich and Rare: Conservation of Threatened Species) to understand better the massive challenge of threatened species conservation in WA.
Why do we need a new State Act?
601 species are listed as threatened with extinction, and this number is increasing. Furthermore, only 20% threatened fauna and less than half threatened flora have recovery plans, and they are often not fully implemented
No legal process exists for designating species as threatened and for recovery of those species.
WA has less than half land area agreed under national targets for conservation reserves
State and Commonwealth threatened species lists are not aligned and the Wildlife Conservation Act does not bind the Crown
The Mining Act and the Minister for Mines over-ride conservation recommendations and offset conditions for areas to be Offsets result in a continuing net loss of biodiversity, and do not justify clearing approvals.
There are no effective protection measures for flora and fauna under planning legislation and policies at both State and Local Government levels
Clearing regulations under the EP Act are failing to protect biodiversity and thousands of hectares of land is being permitted to be cleared at variance to the clearing principles under the regulations.
What interim measures could be done while a new Act is being negotiated?
An Amendment Bill to the Wildlife Conservation Act would be a good starting point! It should include features such as:
• The Wildlife Conservation Act and its Amendments binding the Crown
Perth's Banksia woodlands
Perth's landscape setting in Banksia Woodlands is unique. It is also a biodiversity hotspot and we all have a duty - as a society - to keep it that way.
Perth's unique Banksia woodlands are poorly protected by current legislation and their existence is under threat from clearing and neglect. Yet there is little public comprehension that biodiversity is being lost on our doorstep.
The threats to Banksia woodlands are many, and a few are listed below:
Falling groundwater levels (see p3 West Aust newspaper Sat 25th Feb 2012), resulting in extensive tree deaths (Banksias, Eucalypts) on Swan Coastal Plain, and in the hills in autumn 2011
We Must Protect our Banksia Woodlands Now!
We call for
Government focus and celebration of the values of our unique Banksia Woodlands. A new attitude of respect for nature and the unique landscape we are privileged to live in.
Massive increase in Government investment of resources through DEC, local government and other agencies to achieve the above and manage our Banksia Woodlands in conjunction with local communities.
Greater support for the management of all Bush Forever sites
Education and awareness and contact by community - especially Primary School children in formative years. Need to get people into their local urban bushland - to experience and appreciate it, gives health benefits, enjoyment, 'Nearer to Nature' concept.
Images by Kim Sarti and Marg Owen.
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