The code to operationalise the government’s new 25m land clearing law must protect threatened species habitat and be based on science and expert opinion, not political spin.
“The 25m clearing law the government pushed through parliament last month was a reckless piece of legislation that does nothing to protect against bushfires but does pose a significant risk for endangered species,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“Neither the NSW Bushfire Inquiry nor the Royal Commission recommend land clearing on property boundaries as a valid response to the Black Summer fires, but politicians in the government thought they knew better.
“Now we are stuck with a bad law that could do tremendous harm to the environment.
“The codes are our last chance to get the balance right. The codes will guide how the law is implemented and can be drafted to ensure threatened species and their habitat are protected.”
It is believed the government may introduce its Rural Boundary Clearing Code before the end of the year.
The Nature Conservation Council has written to key ministers detailing minimum environmental standards the code must meet. The code must:
- Exclude areas of koala and other threatened species habitat.
- Exclude bushland of outstanding environmental value.*
- Apply only to mapped bushfire-prone lands the Rural Fire Service has identified as a serious risk.
- Exclude areas of Aboriginal and other cultural heritage.*
- Include a monitoring framework to measure impacts.
“The code will mean the difference between survival and extinction for koalas and other threatened species in some parts of the state, so it is vital that the government gets this right,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
* See the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code.
 Government split over bushfire land clearing rules, SMH, 11/12/20