Inclusion of special wildlife reserves would help strengthen Biodiversity Conservation Act
The Australian Land Conservation Alliance says independent review findings into the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 are an opportunity for the NSW Government to recognise the increasingly important value of protecting its remaining biodiversity.
The review has been conducted by a panel led by Dr Ken Henry, AC, and concludes the present Act is not meeting its primary purpose of maintaining a healthy, productive and resilient environment.
Feedback to the review panel widely supported the continued use of private land conservation agreements and initiatives, while also identifying opportunities to strengthen the role of private land conservation.
The review panel heard that stronger provisions are needed to protect land under a conservation agreement from incompatible land use, such as mining exploration, and recommended that an amendment to the Act could be considered that would allow a new type of agreement that excludes incompatible activities.
ALCA Policy Lead Michael Cornish welcomed the possibility of special wildlife reserves – as they are known in Queensland – or their equivalent being added into legislative amendments that can be expected to flow from the review.
“In our submission to the Review of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act in April, ALCA recommended the adoption of this type of conservation arrangement as a kind of conservation agreement ‘plus’. The added protection for land from mining and other activities that are incompatible with nature increases the long-term security of its conservation protection status. It’s attractive to private investors seeking to ensure high integrity nature positive investments, which is so important when such substantial investments are required to properly establish, manage and rehabilitate land for nature.”
Special wildlife reserves are a type of Australian conservation agreement (or ‘covenant’) that recognise outstanding examples of our natural environment and provide the same level of protection as national parks receive, including the exclusion of mining, but on private land. They can expand the funds available for investment in conservation because the high standard of protection is attractive to private investors. They are voluntary and do not alter the underlying tenure of the land, nor do they change land ownership or management responsibilities.