Govt denies too much land clearing going on


From the ABC  

Conservationists say recent approvals to clear thousands of hectares in the Daly catchment are an indictment on the Territory Government’s pledge to halt clearing and protect the iconic region.

In December, the Government extended its four year moratorium over land clearing in the Daly. On Friday, it committed to reducing greenhouse emissions.

The World Wide Fund’s Dr Stuart Blanch says Nenen Station south of Katherine has been approved to clear over 3,000 hectares to sow introduced pastures for cattle grazing.

Dr Blanch says there’s a worrying inequity between the area where clearing is banned under a government moratorium and where clearing has been approved next door.

"Nenen Station is at the very southern end of the Daly River catchment. The Pastoral Lands Board has approved clearing of around 3,100 hectares that will lead to a carbon pollution event of around 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in the future."

Dr Blanch says another almost 2,000 hectares of tree clearing in the Finniss River and Mataranka regions has also been approved so far this year. He says the clearing will release up to 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

"This seems to be at odds with the Chief Minister’s and Environment Minister’s clear signalling that we need to get cracking on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

"There are some mixed messages coming out of Government on this."

But Environment Minister Len Kiely has dismissed the accusation of inequity in the treatment of land clearing applications.

Len Kiely says the Nenen approval was justified, though he wouldn’t comment on the atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from the clearing.

"As it stands right now, we will always assess any applications for land clearing against our very stringent land clearing guidelines which (look at) soil quality, water availability, biodiversity.

"The Nenen clearance was made in accordance with land clearing guidelines … These were assessed and they were deemed OK.

"We are proud as a Government to have extended the moratorium in the Daly. We believe it is the right decision for the Daly. We are using the Daly to get to gather the science on what it means to protect our iconic rivers in the north."

The World Wide Fund Australia is calling for an embargo on all major land clearing across the Northern Territory to avoid panic land development.

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