A better way to protect koalas

NSW Farmers is calling on the NSW Premier to partner with farmers to take steps to protect koalas on farms instead of imposing a poorly-targeted State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) based on inaccurate mapping.

NSW Farmers’ President James Jackson said farmers have the knowledge, commitment and ability to continue to look after koalas on NSW farms, and government should be supporting them in taking these steps.

“Farmers in NSW are at the forefront of showing how koala conservation and farming can and do co-exist through conservation projects, vegetation management and hazard reduction,” Mr Jackson said.

“In 2016, the NSW Parliament passed the new NSW’s Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation framework, a legislated framework which balances land use and the protection of biodiversity and threatened species.”

“The 2016 reforms were based on the findings of an Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel which concluded that the previous Native Vegetation Act, poorly targeted SEPPs and confusing red tape not only worked against land owners but also lead to biodiversity loss and species decline.”

Mr Jackson said the new Koala SEPP is a step backwards, not a step forward, threatening to return NSW to land management approaches which independent environmental experts have said don’t work for farmers, don’t work for regional communities and don’t work for the environment.

“The current debate around the Koala SEPP has been wrongly characterized as a green versus brown debate – this is incorrect.”

“Farmers want to do their bit to protect koalas, we simply believe it should be done through the modern Biodiversity and Land Management framework that has passed through the NSW Parliament, as opposed to through a poorly targeted SEPP intended for peri-urban development and administered by under-resourced local councils.”

“The NSW Nationals members, and Deputy Premier, should be commended for taking a stand on this touchstone issue for farmers in NSW and regional communities in general.”

“It is good to see the Planning Minister has listened to the concerns of bushfire impacted communities, and exempted the rebuilding of burnt out homes from the SEPP.”

“We are calling on Minister Stokes to now listen to the genuine concerns of regional communities and exempt rural land from this SEPP. The time has come for Premier Berejiklian to intervene and back a way forward that encourages and rewards farmers, rather than penalises them, for the essential role they are playing in delivering both production and environmental outcomes on NSW farms.”

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