Open letter calls for immediate action on land clearing


More than 300 of the nation’s leading scientists have called for strong new legislation to curb the rate of land clearing and deforestation in an open letter signed earlier this month.

Signatories to the letter, including Professors Tim Flannery, Lesley Hughes, Richard Kingsford, Chris Dickman and Martine Maron, argue that large-scale land clearing is nullifying carbon abatement efforts, placing native species at higher likelihood of extinction and exacerbating bushfire risk.

“Australia has a land-clearing crisis. It is truly shameful that our country is listed as a global deforestation hotspot,” said Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology at Macquarie University.

“This declaration is a clarion call by scientists across Australia to our politicians to enact effective policies for conserving what still remains and undertake large-scale restoration programs to bring back what has been lost.”

According to the letter, efforts to curb emissions under the Federal Government’s $2.55 billion Carbon Abatement Fund will be made redundant by the ongoing emissions from land clearing in Australia.

"In the past, New South Wales and Queensland have had stronger laws to protect native vegetation," said Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales.

"They worked, with rates of land-clearing falling significantly and protecting biodiversity, but those laws have been relaxed in the last decade and rates of land clearing are increasing again. We need better laws and regulations and transparent reporting’"

The full statement can be found here.

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