New Boundary Clearing Codes Cause Concern For Conservationists – News Of The Area

COFFS Coast conservationists are concerned that a new land-clearing code introduced by the NSW Government on Saturday could result in thousands of hectares of previously protected bushland being cleared for bushfire risk reduction.
The Chief Executive of the Nature Conservation Council Chris Gambian said, “The new Rural Boundary Clearing Code could see thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat destroyed without requiring independent assessment of the environmental impacts.
“These codes do nothing practical to protect properties from catastrophic bushfires but they are guaranteed to increase deforestation and habitat fragmentation across large parts of the state.”
The Nature Conservation Council claims that neither the NSW Bushfire Inquiry nor the Royal Commission recommended land clearing on property boundaries as a response to the Black Summer fires.
They believe the new code could do tremendous harm to the environment.
The code allows landholders to clear a 25m strip along their property boundary, which means that in practice, 50m strips can be cleared, potentially resulting in habitat loss and reduced connectivity for animal movement.
Mr Gambian said, “The code could mean the difference between survival and extinction for koalas and other threatened species in some parts of the state, so it was vital that the government got this right.”
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the changes improve the ability of people to protect their own and neighbouring properties.
He said it also provides access for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and allows them to fight fires more effectively.
Mr Singh pointed out that there is an online tool that identifies protected areas and environmentally-sensitive zones are safeguarded.
Mayor of Bellingen Shire Dominic King disagreed, saying, “This is lazy legislation with no scientific backing.
“After the bushfires, this is another nail in the coffin.”
Mayor King said increased logging and clearing is drying out our forests, and coupled with climate change, will make fires worse.
He said that the answer is not to get rid of the bush, suggesting instead using First Nations knowledge on how to manage country.
“Whenever there is a big fire some people say ‘it’s because the Greenies wouldn’t let us clear’, but the real issue is addressing climate change and properly equipping and supporting the RFS,” said Mayor King.
“This change will have a massive impact on biodiversity.”
By Andrew VIVIAN

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