Jim Hoggett milks goats at his farm west of Gloucester in northern eastern NSW, he is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and he had the feature letter in last week’s The Land (16th February). It read:
Last weekend we had the routine “alleged illegal land clearing” scare in the Sydney Morning Herald, fostered by the Wilderness Society. It was alleged that the equivalent of 6 Sydney Cricket Ground pitches were being illegally cleared in NSW every hour of every day.
The greatest threat to nature in NSW is not scrub clearing in the central West. It is fire, especially fire in the National Parks.
In the few weeks prior to the SMH report an area perhaps 10 times the area of alleged illegal clearing went up in wildfires across the eastern States. And the season is not over yet. To use the much loved
Green cricket pitch analogy, that is the equivalent of 60 Sydney Cricket Grounds every hour of every day. The difference is that the fires consume the pristine, national heritage, wilderness rather than Central-Western scrub.
And this is as nothing to the 2003 fires (900 cricket grounds per hour for NSW and the ACT alone) where the jewels in the crown were burned to the ground – if that is not too mixed a metaphor.
I have not heard a peep out of the Wilderness Society about all this. Nor has anyone to my knowledge ever attempted to measure this truly massive, recurring ecological damage. Not to mention the annual risk
to the lives of firefighters. No doubt there is a lot of silent hand wringing but I hear no solutions.
And we will no doubt find that much of the alleged illegal clearing was of regrowth. The interval between the two photos in the SMH report was only 3 years. So much of the area may well have been previously cleared. Perhaps we could direct the satellite to take a survey of reafforestation in NSW. We might well find that the total area and density of NSW native vegetation has actually increased with regrowth and forest thickening. Let’s look at the stock as well as the flow.
What is the net gain/loss?
Even better, instead of spending millions of dollars on satellites to spy on its own citizens, government could divert the money to programs which would prevent the mass destruction of our fauna and flora. Then we could possible simplify the absurdly restrictive Native Vegetation Act and work on a program of serious fire mitigation in our Parks.
Incidentally, the alleged illegal clearing amounted to less than one hundredth of one per cent of the area of NSW.
Republished with permission from Jim Hoggett.