To: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on the Victorian Biodiversity Draft Plan: Protecting Victoria's Environment - Biodiversity 2036

Made: 14 May 2016

EFN is generally supportive of the aims and aspirations outlined in the draft Plan. In particular we concur with recognition of the:

  • declining state of our biological capacity and biodiversity resources;
  • value (economic, social and existential) of a healthy and capable natural environment;
  • need for leadership to make progress towards the stated goals;
  • importance of measurable objectives; and,
  • challenge of coping with climate change

We strongly support greater intellectual, economic and social investment to encourage improvement in biodiversity and biological capacity on private land, better environmental economic accounting methods that take total costs of actions into consideration and increasing involvement and appreciation of the natural environment by Victorians and visitors.
We believe it is worth vigorously fighting for:

  • a focus on the causes of environmental pressures rather than dealing with the consequences of these  pressures;
  • acceptance and realization of the concept of a “healthy” environment;
  • retaining the uniqueness of our specific environments;
  • a detailed audit and monitoring program of ecosystem services which support our civilisation;
  • sharper thinking of state, national and international sustainability needs in the light of the thundering footprints of: climate change; rapacious human expansion; and , economic frivolousness; and,
  • greater leadership  from government and industry.

More specifically EFN believes that the Biodiversity Plan is unlikely to succeed if the Native Vegetation Clearing Regulations are not totally overhauled. The current system of regulation and offsets has failed for a number of reasons. Tinkering with the current system is not addressing the key problems associated with continual biodiversity decline on private land.
In addition to better native vegetation controls we need to boost investment in Ecosystem Service Markets and Payments to improve biodiversity on private land and thus offset losses occurring because of a range of issues (lack of enforcement, continual grazing, poor management, changed management, economics of scale, enterprise change, etc).
The recent budget announcement for more than $200 M to be invested on waterway health is an excellent start and recognition that current investment is far from sufficient.
Historically Landcare Groups have had lots of financial and administrative support and we believe that we need to expand this model to include  Conservation Groups (eg Friends of …. Groups) working on Public Land. To date, such groups have been largely ignored. These Groups generally do more voluntary Group work than Farm Landcare Groups and have a massive impact on improving biodiversity on Crown Land.
If the biodiversity strategy is successful, an increase in usage of Parks will occur along with public expectations for improved facilities …toilets, roads, camping areas etc. Additional investment will be required for extra staff , the adequate maintenance of services, and improved research capacity to investigate and mitigate the impacts of climate change on flora and fauna. Note: Expected population increase will place extra pressure on our natural resource base regardless of the impact of the new strategy.

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