In their current form, Australia’s environmental laws are not sufficient to halt the loss of our native plants, animals and habitats. Our wild places are facing an unprecedented number of threats, making it more important now than ever before that Australia has strong, transparent and effective legislative protections for the natural environment. Bush Heritage is proud to announce that it is joining a national coalition of more than 60 environmental groups that are standing together to advocate for such laws: the Places You Love Alliance.
Founded in 2012, the Places You Love Alliance brings together organisations such as the Environmental Defenders Office, Birdlife Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia to champion the need for better national environmental protections. By adding its name to that list, Bush Heritage will have more opportunities to influence some of the most significant environmental issues of our time, including the 10-yearly review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which is currently underway.
At its core, the EPBC Act is designed to provide a legal framework for the protection of the Australian environment and biodiversity; however an independent review, released earlier this year, found that the EPBC Act was not meeting its requirements in many ways and that the state of our environment is declining under the laws designed to protect it.
Bush Heritage sees supporting legal instruments of environmental protection as an extension of our vision: healthy country, protected forever. Once such laws are in place, they’re difficult to change or roll back, so it is imperative that we use our expertise to influence them when given the chance.
As an apolitical organisation, we are often invited by governments to provide expert input into legislative decisions related to the protection of the bush. Bush Heritage has over 30 years’ experience interacting with Australia’s environmental laws on the ground, and our ecologists, field staff and land managers have an in-depth understanding of how these laws play out in a practical sense. Recently, we played an active role in the development of a new protected area category in Queensland offering privately owned or managed nature reserves the same legal protections as national parks – the first example of such protections in Australia. We have also we made our own submissions to the EPBC Act review (which you can read here) and engaged with the review team several times.
By joining the Places You Love Alliance, we are increasing our capacity to influence government policies and laws that have the potential to provide a more secure future for the bush. Next week, proposed changes to the EPBC Act will go the Senate, ahead of the full review findings, where they will likely be blocked by crossbench senators. Places You Love has been closely engaged with government throughout the consultation process for the EPBC Act review and we expect there will be ongoing communications to ensure we can stand together to strengthen national and state-based environmental laws going forward. Bush Heritage is thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort, and to be working constructively with government to find a better path forward to protect our wild places.