The NSW Government is sitting on its hands while thousands of hectares of native bushland has been cleared near Moree and in other parts of the state, threatening the survival of local koala populations and destroying habitat for threatened wildlife, the state’s peak environment group said today.
More than 1,000 hectares of bushland near Moree, documented as important koala habitat, has been bulldozed and an investigation is underway, but the NSW Government has said it may not take any enforcement action until Christmas.
The suspected illegal clearing near Moree follows another case of land clearing on the same property that the Office of Environment and Heritage has been investigating since the beginning of the year.
“It is totally unacceptable that suspected illegal land clearing has been allowed to continue unchecked for months,” said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The Office of Environment and Heritage can and must issue stop work orders immediately to protect this important wildlife habitat while its investigations are completed.
“It’s time threatened native species were given the benefit of the doubt. Government must take decisive action to send a clear signal that it will not tolerate illegal land clearing,” he said.
Mr Clarke said that the NSW Government has also proposed changes to the Native Vegetation Regulations 2005 that will make it harder to identify and prevent illegal land clearing.
“The NSW Government must take action to stop irresponsible land owners from flouting the law, and abandon plans to weaken important land clearing laws.”
“Responsible farmers and community volunteers are working hard across the state to restore the landscape. The Government must support their work by enforcing land clearing laws consistently, educating the community and continuing to invest in practical conservation efforts in regional NSW.”