Last week the New South Wales Parliament introduced amendments to the state’s biodiversity and conservation laws. The Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 (NSW) will repeal the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and the animal and plant provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The bill seeks to consolidate land management laws in NSW. Currently, NSW planning laws largely protect rural environments from broad scale land clearing. The current government has justified reform to these laws saying in the current state conservation land management laws decrease productivity of agricultural land, with little compensation or assistance to agriculturalists for the compulsory protection of biodiversity.
With native vegetation recognised as a key proxy for ecosystem protection, the new bill seeks to collaborate between government and stakeholders to create a system that incentivises protection. The reforms are grouped into four key areas
The reforms will introduce into the Local Land Service Act 2013 (NSW) new criteria for determining land on which native vegetation impacts are and are not regulated; new allowable activities permitting landholders to undertake routine land management activities without permission; new codes of practice permitting impacts on native vegetation in regulated rural areas; and a new clearing approval process that leverages the biodiversity offsets scheme and requires triple bottom line decision-making. The new legislation will categorise land into
A map of the categorisation of areas will be developed in consultation with stakeholders. A lack of public consultation for ministerial declarations over land will not invalidate documents. Land declared as of outstanding value by the Minister will be protected under the Regulations which are yet to be produced. The new reforms will be supported by $240 million dollars in investment from the government over five years and then $70 million per year after that in private land conservation, in addition to $100 million to fund the Saving our Species program.
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