Critical habitat map a good step – now it’s time to protect it

Nature Conservation Council

29th February 2024

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, has today welcomed the release of the next phase of the Native Vegetation Regulatory map.

The map now identifies ‘vulnerable’ and ‘sensitive’ ecosystems across the North Coast, Northern Tablelands, Central West and Central Tablelands.

The government has said this land will be subject to greater protection. However, this map has been seven years in the making, and there is still no timeline for when the protections will begin.

“We applaud Minister Sharpe for finally progressing the release of this data, which was delayed under the previous government” NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford said today.

“Now we need to see a plan to enforce its protection.

“These maps identify some of the most important ecosystems that occur on private land. But it is going to take more than a map to arrest biodiversity decline in this state.

“It’s up to Minister Moriarty to fulfil Labor’s election commitment by ensuring these areas are protected, and landholders have the appropriate support s, incentives and opportunities to deliver for nature.”

Statements attributable to NCC Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford

“Land clearing is now the greatest threat to biodiversity in NSW. Landholders don’t even need to contact the Local land Services before destroying areas that have been identified as critical ecosystems.

“We recognise the need to incorporate landholder knowledge into this process. However, consultation cannot be used to further delay the protection of these critical habitats, or their pre-emptive destruction.

“It’s past time Minister Moriarty broke her silence and told us how she plans on delivering on Labor’s election commitment to ‘stop run away land clearing’.

“At a minimum, the Minister must commit to an end to landholder self-assessment and close the ‘allowable activities’ loopholes introduced by the former government.

“The ‘self-assessment’ free-for-all introduced by the former government has seen land clearing triple across NSW. “Meanwhile, landholders are allowed to clear critical habitats for such a diverse range of reasons that their protected status means very little.

“The government also committed to collaborating with landholders to develop strategies for protecting key habitats. Yet, on this matter, Minister Moriarty has also remained silent.

“There are thousands of landholders across NSW who care deeply about preserving the important habitats on their land, and this map is a vital tool to help them.

“However, the lack of support for private land stewardship places them at a disadvantage. They are having to compete with the often large agribusinesses concerned with short terms profits, not the long-term stewardship of the land.

“The destruction of endangered ecological communities across the state cannot continue unabated.

“The whole-of-Government response to Ken Henry’s review of NSW biodiversity laws is being developed right now. It is a great opportunity for Labor to fix the mess they have inherited from the former government and raise the standard of habitat protection and stewardship across the state.”

Statement ends

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