‘New national laws needed to restore damaged ecosystems’

New national environment laws enforced by a federal environmental protection agency have been flagged by Environment Minister Tanya Pliberesek.

Speaking at the National Press Club last week after the release of 2021 State of the Environment Report, Ms Pliberek said a “fundamental reforming” of national environment laws was needed to restore damaged landscape, repair coral reefs, and recover threatened species.

“Australia’s environment is bad and getting worse, as this report shows,” Ms Plibersek said. “And much of the destruction outlined in the State of the Environment report will take years to turn around.”

“To offer proper protection, we need to set clear national environmental standards – with explicit targets around what we value as a country, and what the law needs to protect.

“This will require a fundamental reforming of our national environment laws – and empowering a new Environmental Protection Agency to enforce them.”

She said a formal government response to the 2021 Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation by the end of the year would help guide the change.

Among other things, Ms Plibersek foreshadowed:

  • promoting recycling, reusing and repairing as much as possible to combat a plague of marine plastics;
  • an immediate start on improving environmental data and regional planning to establish a shared view around what needs to be protected or restored, and areas where development can occur with minimal consequence;
  • Supporting investment for land-based carbon projects and blue carbon projects delivering biodiversity, improved drought resilience, and increased agricultural productivity;
  • Supporting blue carbon projects to restore mangroves, tidal marshes, and sea grasses to improve marine habitats and protect coastlines from rising tides and storms; and
  • Introducing standalone cultural heritage legislation.

She also said the Government will set at a national goal of protecting 30 percent of our land and 30 percent of our oceans by 2030.

“Much of the destruction outlined in the State of the Environment report will take years to turn around,” Ms Plibersek said.  “Nevertheless, I’m optimistic about the steps we can take over the next three years.”