Conservation groups have called on the Minister for the Environment, Hon. Albert Jacob, to take urgent action under the new Biodiversity Conservation laws to protect WA’s unique wildlife from land clearing.
The EPA’s Annual Report released last week has identified poor regulation and monitoring of land clearing as a key environmental challenge[i].
CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said, “The EPA report paints an appalling picture of habitat loss due to land clearing, much of which is not even being monitored or recorded.
“Minister Jacob has stated repeatedly that the Government’s new Biodiversity Conservation Act would be effective in addressing the challenges facing our environment and wildlife.
“Now is his chance to prove that by taking action under the Act to address a key threat identified clearly by the EPA.
“The Minister must immediately give statutory protection under the new legislation to known Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs), Priority Ecological Communities (PEC’s) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs).
“Many areas including the South Coast Kwongan Heathlands, Wheatbelt Woodlands, Banksia Woodlands and Monsoon Vine Thickets are already recognised by scientists and government agencies as Threatened Ecological Communities however they lack any protection under the new laws – unless and until the Minister affords them protection.
“We are calling on the Minister to urgently protect these areas under the Act before the unique wildlife they support is lost forever.”
Peter Robertson, Wilderness Society Campaigner said, “The current processes to regulate native vegetation clearing in WA is clearly broken – it’s a shambles.
“Almost every week we are seeing applications and approvals for large-scale clearing in areas of rare and unique vegetation that should be protected under the Government’s new laws.
“But it’s the pervasive land clearing that is occurring across the state that is not even being recorded or monitored that is an even bigger concern.
“Under Minster Jacob and his predecessor, WA’s native vegetation clearing regulations have been watered down and exemptions have been given for mining, petroleum, gas fracking, road building and numerous other activities.
“This war on nature has to stop.”
[i]“The EPA is particularly concerned by the cumulative impact of clearing in the Perth, Peel, Wheatbelt and Pilbara regions…With multiple agencies involved and no single, consistent mechanism for recording approved clearing there is currently no reliable means to determine how much native vegetation has been approved to clear, or how much is cleared in any given year, State-wide.” Page 16 EPA Annual report 2015-16