Something is wrong if an environmental charity is expected to undertake the monitoring and due diligence that should be part of the Environment Department’s core business.
In response to news that the Federal Environment Department has found clearing of Greater Glider habitat on Meadowbank Station in north Queensland was illegal, James Trezise, Nature Policy Analyst for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), said:
“ACF is pleased by reports the Department has acted on serious concerns we raised after satellite images revealed an area of confirmed habitat for the endangered greater glider on Meadowbank Station that was meant to be protected under national law was cleared.
“However, something is wrong if an environmental charity is expected to undertake the monitoring and due diligence that should be part of the Department’s core business.
“Adding seven hectares to the greater glider protection area on the property is better than not adding it, but when you consider how much glider habitat has been cleared and burnt-and how much more the Government has approved for clearing- it is a drop in the ocean.
“The lack of any penalties for an alleged breach of federal approval conditions is concerning as it provides almost no deterrence against future non-compliance.
“Australia is in the midst of an extinction crisis, yet the Federal Government has approved the bulldozing of more than 1,300 hectares of greater glider habitat on Meadowbank station.
“There is evidence senior cabinet ministers lobbied for this land clearing to be approved.
“In the 20 years Australia has had a national environment law, an area of threatened species habitat larger than Tasmania has been logged, bulldozed and cleared.
“The greater glider used to be common, but its numbers have crashed by 80 per cent in the last 20 years due to logging and clearing of its habitat, bushfires and climate change.
“Australia’s environment law, which is being reviewed at present, needs serious structural change to protect our unique native species, which have suffered so much this summer.
“If this matter is settled, in the interests of transparent and open government, the Department should disclose the findings of its investigation.”
- The Government has failed to meet its own statutory deadline to release a greater glider recovery plan. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the Environment Minister was required to release the strategy by May 2019.
- Some of the glider’s best remaining habitat in Victoria was burnt in recent bushfires.
- The Federal Environment Department has had funding cuts of 40 per cent cut since 2013.
- More background to the Meadowbank Station situation here and here.