Fear and loathing? Yep, it’s native veg | ANALYSIS

Fear and loathing? Yep, it’s native veg | ANALYSIS

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It’s safe to say there’s few areas of NSW politics treading so many different fault lines as land clearing laws. The environmental lobby versus the farm lobby, Labor and Greens versus the Coalition, and, in the eyes of many, the city versus bush. There's even a court challenge against the validity of the codes.

It’s safe to say there’s few areas of NSW politics treading so many different fault lines as land clearing laws. The environmental lobby versus the farm lobby, Labor and Greens versus the Coalition, and, in the eyes of many, the city versus bush. There's even a court challenge against the validity of the codes.

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It’s safe to say there’s few areas of NSW politics as polarised as land clearing laws

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Analysis

SO this stuff passed parliament 18 months ago… but is still technically incomplete?

And more and more farmers are taking it up… but the main lobby group isn’t 100 per cent sold?  

And those who’ve pledged to dump it all… are okay with the cost being put back onto regions they don’t live in?

At least the departments looking after all this get along, right?

Urban legend decrees that for the past 25 years in NSW, if you say ‘native vegetation’ three times into a mirror, a dense cluster of cyprus trees appears behind you and begins to degrade the soil and biodiversity value of your immediate surrounds.

This is followed by disembodied voices yelling at you for hating nature, or not hating nature, or for hating the wrong aspects of nature.

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It’s safe to say there’s few areas of NSW politics as polarised as land clearing laws: Enviro lobby versus farm lobby, Labor and Greens versus Coalition, and, in the eyes of many, city versus bush. 

It’s a debate rooted too often in ideology on both sides, and one that will surely continue beyond the current regime and whatever follows. 

Over the past three years we’ve seen the scale tipped back towards landholders – even if they continue to fight over what constitutes an acceptable satellite image of their property, and how the legal system should operate if they are accused of doing the wrong thing.  

One big question is whether the political capital spent by NSW Nationals on these reforms will pay off.  

Because the laws passed in November 2016 and activated in August 2017 will, objectively, see more trees cut down. If people cut too much, they should absolutely be penalised, not least for tarnishing their fellow landholders by association. 

However, if an appropriately-funded and resourced LLS and Biodiversity Conservation Trust operates as it should, the hope of government is that more examples will emerge of how this is more than bulldozing stuff. 

Expect the ebb and flow to be punctuated by the intermittent release of clearing statistics – something that government needs to keep up-to-date and completely transparent if it is to hold this policy up as credible. 

On the flip side, anyone forecasting a clearing Armageddon must consider how much clearing is regrowth, how much clearing is invasive native species or woody weed, how much has been set aside for conservation, how many trees have been replanted, and whether clearing has enable other biodiversity values to flourish. 

Maybe line up a visit with a farmer who’s done some work and cares about their land? 

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