Our region is a recognised biodiversity hotspot of national and international significance, and our natural areas underpin our stunning landscapes and our treasured way of life. But our region is also earmarked for massive growth over the coming decades1, with increasing pressure for new housing, tourism and mining.
If we lose protection from our precious natural areas now, it will leave them wide-open to a range of destructive developments and our community will be robbed of its right to decide the future of its local and regional environment. The time to act is now!
Our region’s unique and precious biodiversity
The biological diversity of our region is of national and international significance. Its rainforests and eucalypt forests are of world heritage value, and its natural areas are home to the highest number of rare and endangered species in NSW.
Our remaining natural areas are the last survivors of more than a century of over-clearing, logging and coastal development. And many of our iconic species such as the Koala are rapidly sliding towards extinction.
Despite this, the NSW Government wants to strip protection from these last remaining areas to pave the way for development at any cost. Have we learnt nothing? Without these protections much of our remaining forests, wetlands and wildlife won’t be around for future generations to enjoy.
Our unique lifestyle and landscape at risk from over-development
Our region’s natural areas provide the foundation of our stunning landscapes and treasured way of life. The blend of natural and rural landscapes forms a unique backdrop to our coastal and country lifestyles, that are the envy of the world.
Nature too, underpins the region’s vital tourism industry, with ‘nature’ consistently ranking as a top attraction for our millions of annual visitors. Tourism attracts over $1 billion dollars2 each year to the northern rivers region alone, fuelling our regional economy and supporting countless jobs along the way.
Yet the removal of environmental zones threatens the very natural assets upon which we all depend. Most of the community doesn’t want Gold Coast-style development along our coastline, logging along our scenic escarpments or have our stunning landscapes ruined by the scars, infrastructure and pollution of mining. Growth is inevitable, but we also need to protect the remaining natural areas so precious to our regional community and economy.
Our community’s right to decide the future of our local environment
We value our natural areas and as a community we expect to be involved in deciding their future. Environment zones are essential triggers for community consultation. Without them many types of development in our fragile natural areas don’t need any consultation at all. By the time we hear about, it may already be gone forever. Imagine waking up one morning to find developers clearing your local patch of bushland or your neighbours ‘cleaning-up’ the rainforest on the other side of your creek. Without environmental zones you may not even have the right to object.
This is our local environment and we have a right to help decide its future. As a community we invest a lot in restoring these natural areas and we’ve fought hard to protect what’s left. Why should we now hand it all over to narrow private interests looking to make a quick buck?
- Far North Coast Regional Strategy, NSW Department of Planning (2006)
- Total tourism expenditure: $1.185 billion. The Economic Importance of Tourism in Australia’s Regions, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Canberra (2011).