NSW Farmers responds to Sydney Morning Herald article 8/11/2018

Dear Editor,
Claims by your reporter, Peter Hannam, that biodiversity legislation reforms have resulted in ‘killing 10m animals yearly’ are as sensational as they are wrong.
Your reporter’s story references figures considered estimations which are contained in an unnamed report by an environmental lobby group prepared in the lead up to an election.  The article does reference that the report relies on assumptions, guesses, estimations – rubbery figures – to blur a complicated debate about active land management in our state, but the reader has already been biased. 

Where are the environmental movements’ figures about the rate of biodiversity lost during forest fires, including the thousands of koalas killed in the Pilliga Forest in recent years?  Where is the environmental movements’ analysis of the impact of biodiversity loss attributable to pests and weeds on public land, where native species are choked out because invasive species are not actively managed?  Invasive species, including unmanaged native species, pose a significant risk to our biodiversity, yet there is complete silence from Mr Hannam and his sources in the environmental movement.

Farmers in New South Wales are committed to providing productive and environmental outcomes for their farms.  Native flora and fauna flourish on our farms and scientific studies have in fact proven increased levels of biodiversity on actively managed private lands.  Bird watchers actively seek-out access to our farms because of the biodiversity value.  One land owner alone has improved the biodiversity on his property – through active management and controlling invasive species – increasing the presence of native species from 47 to 356.  Importantly, the new legislation allows for private conservation agreements to be established by farmers – these agreements are being entered into all the time.

The independent 2014 “Review of biodiversity legislation in NSW” found that the now-repealed and impractical Native Vegetation Act resulted in perverse environmental outcomes and biodiversity loss – this was consistent with the concerns of farmers.  Environmental groups cannot accept this truth and instead want to wind-back the clock to a regime which, for 20 years, failed to protect and enhance our biodiversity.

The allegation that farmers are wantonly destroying our biodiversity is simply wrong.

Finally, Mr Hannam’s report would achieve greater balance if it engaged both sides of the debate.  Sadly, it could be concluded that Mr Hannam is pursuing a particular agenda – this approach blurs a complicated issue and this report distorts the facts.
Yours sincerely,

James Jackson
NSW Farmers’ President

Date: Friday 9 November 2018
Media Contact:   Kathleen Curry  |  Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690