A public forum in Dubbo on March 2, 2007, hosted by the Australian Environment Foundation and the New South Wales Regional Community Survival Group heard that 20 million hectares of western NSW is now threatened by invasive native scrub. This is an area three times the size of Tasmania.
The amount of land affected continues to grow each year because the native vegetation laws currently in place are so prescriptive, that in many cases, it is not feasible or economical for landholders to try and control the woody weeds.
Native vegetation legislation introduced by the Carr Government in 2003 has effectively eroded the property rights of many western NSW farmers, removing their ability to properly manage the vegetation on their own properties.
The primary objects of the legislation are listed as:
- to provide for, encourage and promote the management of native vegetation on a regional basis in the social, economic and environmental interests of the state; and
- to prevent the clearing of remnant native vegetation and protected regrowth unless it leads to better environmental outcomes.
The legislation clearly fails to achieve these objectives as they apply to woody weeds.
Woody weeds, or more correctly Invasive Native Species, are a small number of species that have invaded native grasslands and created virtual monocultures or a very limited diversity of plants that discourages habitation by native wildlife or native groundcover plants.
Inspection of numerous properties in the Nyngan - Cobar region reveals an unnatural landscape consisting of thick stands of native scrub that have taken hold since the introduction of native vegetation legislation. Aboriginal elders talk of a landscape dominated by grasslands, periodically burnt to keep them open and produce fresh new growth.
The current dilemma stems from prescriptive legislation designed to limit land clearing which achieves the objectives of The Wilderness Society and appeals to the urban green vote.
The legislation, as it applies to woody weeds, does not achieve any worthwhile land management objectives.
No other environment group has spoken out against the environmental degradation caused by this legislation. This is perhaps not surprising, as to do so would be contrary to the ideological viewpoint of most city based “environmentalists” - that any native tree growth is good - no matter what the cost to the environment.
The hypocrisy of the Wilderness Society campaigners who are driving this issue is breathtaking. Agitation for the imposition of legislation that removes property rights from individuals - without compensation - to satisfy the ideological whims of “environmentalists” who will not bear the cost of their actions or the consequences.
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