The Northern Territory is a special place. This is something that Territorians instinctively understand: it’s our unique landscapes, people and culture that make it the place it is today and why we need to look after it for tomorrow.
In February 2021, the most comprehensive research evaluating the environmental state of play in Australia was published. Of the 19 Australian ecosystems which met the criteria to be classified as “collapsing” are the Northern Territory’s magnificent tropical savannas, where large-scale agriculture could be expanded in the coming decades, particularly in the Daly, Katherine and Roper River catchments.
Just a few weeks later, Minister Nicole Manison proudly declared that the Gunner Government was “cutting red tape” by slashing approval times for “simplified” land clearing applications of less than 1000 hectares on pastoral land from 6 months to 6 weeks, to clear the path for agricultural development.
The first ever “simplified” land clearing proposal was advertised on 16 July, and it’s an epic fail. It doesn’t even comply with the Gunner Government’s brand new guidelines, and if it is approved it will breach the Commonwealth’s environmental laws.
Take action today: write to the Pastoral Land Board telling them you oppose the application
The application to clear 998.5 hectares of native vegetation at Claravale Station (conveniently right below the threshold) will impact no less than 8 threatened species which have been detected on or near the land in question.
The impacts on some of these species are likely to be significant.
For example, the Partridge Pigeon population at Claravale Station is designated as an important population under the Environment Protection and Conservation Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cth) because it is at the outer edge of its range at Claravale and therefore should be immediately referred for assessment under that legislation.
In addition, the population of ghost bats at Claravale Station is considered to be of high significance for the species in the NT, as it is only one of 5 known maternity roosts in the whole of the Territory. The many interconnected caves and sinkholes in the Tindall limestone aquifer at Claravale are important roosting sites for the ghost bat, and the clearing application will clear important foraging habitat for this population.
Finally, the very same landowner has just (on 7 July 2021) had a clearing application for close to 700 hectares of land approved, right next door (on the freehold portion of its landholding). This will increase the cumulative impacts of the clearing application, yet is not referred to at all in the documentation provided.
There’s nothing “simple” about this application. It’s being rushed through with only two weeks for the public to comment, barely time to read the application let alone comment on it.
There’s more to come. This is the first of many land clearing applications under the Gunner Government’s weakened clearing laws that will mean less scrutiny and will speed up the Top End’s already shocking rates of extinction. As habitats become increasingly fragmented, populations of threatened animals become more vulnerable to other threats, such as predation by feral species like cats, gamba grass and associated destructive fires, and lose the ability to recolonise suitable habitat.
13% of the Daly catchment is already cleared, and there are no caps in place to prevent largescale devastation of this region, with irreversible impacts, including on the magnificent free-flowing Daly River.
Submissions close on the Claravale clearing application on 30 July.
Please take action NOW, by making a submission to the Pastoral Land Board telling it to reject the application or immediately refer it for assessment under Northern Territory and Commonwealth environmental laws.
It doesn’t have to be this way. By standing together we can make it clear to the Gunner Government that Territorians won’t stand by and watch as more bulldozers roll in to destroy more savanna landscapes. Making a submission today is another step as we build our campaign to secure a healthy future for our iconic savannas and rivers here in the Northern Territory.
By signing this petition you are providing Environment Centre NT with your details. We will use these signatories to provide Minister Manison, Minister Lawler, the Pastoral Land Board and potentially others with a list of supporters.
Photo credits: ABC Local, B Taubert, L Patterson and P Homer.