WA Govt must drop woodland wipeout scheme
- Plan revealed through Freedom of Information (FOI) looks to wipe out up to 500,000 hectares of the Great Western Woodlands
- New agricultural areas earmarked for “foreign owned entities not mum and dad farmers”
- Great Western Woodlands is a wildflower wonderland, boasting over 20% of Australia’s native flora
The Western Australian Government must veto plans to allow multinational agribusinesses and others to wipe out half a million hectares of the Great Western Woodlands, an area of destruction more than twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory, the Wilderness Society said today.
FOI documents reveal that the WA Department of Regional Development (DRD) has warned the project would have to be undertaken by ‘large foreign owned corporations’ due to its scale.
The Wilderness Society (WA) senior campaigner Peter Robertson said, “The Great Western Woodlands is what remains after millions of hectares of southern Western Australia were destroyed in a clearing frenzy for farming, which has left more than 1 million hectares of farmland impacted by salinity problems.
“The main reason the Great Western Woodlands survived is that they were considered too marginal to sustain agriculture. The Shire of Esperance and the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission, however, are working on a plan to clear another 500,000 hectares of even more marginal land.
“The Great Western Woodlands is Australia’s hidden treasure, the largest temperate woodland left on the planet,” said Wilderness Society Western Australia senior campaigner Peter Robertson.
“It’s a wildflower wonderland, boasting 20 per cent of Australia’s native flora. New plant species are still being discovered there, with a new eucalyptus species found there in the few months. It is so important that the Federal Government has listed it as a Threatened Ecological Community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
“This is a backward looking proposal when instead we should be looking at how we make existing farmland in the wheatbelt more sustainable and resilient in the face of declining rainfall, salinity and a host of other environmental, social and economic challenges.
“We should not be sacrificing what’s left of our treasured natural heritage so foreign multinationals can trash our landscapes to make a quick buck,” Mr Robertson said.
For further comment contact:
Wilderness Society Western Australia senior campaigner Peter Robertson on 0409 089 020