The NSW Greens have announced a comprehensive and ambitious plan to protect and enhance our natural environment for future generations.
The $4 billion plan includes support for a Great Koala National Park on the NSW mid-north coast, an end to logging in public native forests and a $1.5 billion Land and Biodiversity Fund to encourage farmers and land managers to protect and repair native vegetation.
A community forum held in Bellingen last week focused on the conservation and economic benefits of the Great Koala National Park proposal, which would see 175,000 hectares of state forest added to existing national parks in our area.
The Greens' plan also includes:
· $2 billion for a historic expansion of protected areas, including a $150 million per year funding increase to rebuild the National Parks and Wildlife Service
· $300 million to promote the cultural management of country through expanding Aboriginal Land and Sea Ranger Programs
· $200 million to tackle weeds, feral animals and other invasive species
The plan would be partly paid for through a new one per cent Environmental Levy on all building and construction work in the state worth more than $1 million, including mines, infrastructure and new housing developments.
This levy is expected to raise approximately $500 million per year. The other $500 million per year will come from consolidated revenue.
Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said the March 23 election was crucial for the environment.
"After eight years of the Liberal and National parties watering down environmental protections and refusing to act on climate change, the next government will be make or break for iconic species like the koalas and ecosystems on the brink of collapse," Ms Faehrmann said.
"The Greens have developed a comprehensive and ambitious plan to protect and restore our landscapes and biodiversity by investing in a network of protected areas, ending logging in public native forests and rebuilding our National Parks and Wildlife Service.
"We want to incentivise and reward farmers and land managers who conserve and repair native vegetation, instead of allowing out of control land clearing to devastate remnant bushland and habitat.
"The Greens will introduce powerful laws to protect existing native vegetation and biodiversity, require the government to enhance biodiversity and ensure that any clearing is strictly limited to small-scale maintenance activities that have low ecological impacts.
"This is also a massive investment in our regional economies, and will create thousands of regional jobs in land restoration, carbon farming and landscape management. Investing in conservation management parks and reserves will boost eco-tourism opportunities and build resilience for local communities.
"The expansion of National Parks and protected areas has effectively stopped under the Coalition, with a 95 per cent decline in annual additions. The Greens will invest in a network of protected areas linked by corridors, that is comprehensive, adequate and representative, and protects our state’s biological diversity and natural heritage for future generations. We support a target of 17 per cent of the state protected and funded by 2030.
"We are also investing $300 million in expanding the First Nations Ranger programs to ensure native title holders have the skills and resources to manage their traditional lands and to actively promote Aboriginal leadership in the management of national parks and nature reserves.
"By embedding Aboriginal traditional knowledge, cultural values and custodial responsibilities to the land and waters in the way we manage national parks and reserves, we get tangible environmental benefits and better social, cultural and economic outcomes for First Nations people," Ms Faehrmann said.