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THE NORTHERN TERRITORY NEEDS NEW NATURE LAWS

The Northern Territory’s nature is a national treasure and a part of who we are. The Top End is the heart of the world’s largest intact tropical savanna woodlands, which stretch between Cairns and Broome across Northern Australia. Iconic free-flowing rivers snake through the savanna landscape and discharge into the ocean. Traditional Owners continue to manage these landscapes in accordance with millennia-old laws and customs. We should do all we can to protect our nature.

Yet the Territory’s iconic landscapes, ecosystems and native wildlife are under threat like never before. We are in the middle of an extinction crisis, with the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world. Feral animals, invasive weeds and wildfire are ravaging ecosystems and many native wildlife populations have undergone catastrophic declines. Climate change impacts are increasing. Research recently diagnosed our tropical savanna and arid zone as ecosystems in collapse.

Now, massive agricultural developments are destroying huge areas of wildlife habitat through broadscale tree-clearing. This is being spearheaded by the proposed massive expansion of the cotton industry in the Northern Territory. Land clearing approvals have increased by 300% in the last few years in the Northern Territory, destroying biodiversity and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Instead of acting to protect our nature, the Northern Territory Government is speeding its decline. In January 2023, ABC’s 7.30 revealed in shocking detail how cotton growers are felling trees and clearing land on multiple stations before permits had been granted. Following complaints, the Northern Territory Government granted retrospective permits.

It’s simply not good enough. It’s time for the Northern Territory Government to do its job.

At ECNT, we’re calling for next generation nature laws for the Northern Territory.

Unbelievably, the Northern Territory is the only jurisdiction without native vegetation laws. We don’t have an overarching biodiversity conservation strategy. We don’t have state of the environment reporting. It’s simply not good enough.

Urgent reform is desperately needed to protect the Territory’s nature. We deserve best practice biodiversity laws that halt biodiversity decline, protect our precious nature and give local communities a genuine say in decision-making.

ECNT is calling for cross-party support and commitment to best practice nature laws. You can help us get that commitment. Email Chief Minister Fyles and Environment Minister Moss now to let them know you will be voting for the Territory’s nature at the next election.

You can download the Discussion Paper here.

And the results of our Nature Survey are here.