Potentially illegal bulldozing of threatened species habitat near Armidale in New South Wales by a prominent beef producer associated with a large feedlot company has been exposed by an Australian Conservation Foundation crowdsourced investigation.
Approximately 250 hectares of woodland has already been bulldozed and a further 30 hectares has been prepared for clearing. ACF captured footage of the destruction.
There have been 26 sightings of the critically endangered Regent honeyeater within a 10-kilometre radius of the property in question, according to the Atlas of Living Australia.
The area being bulldozed, around 40 kilometres west of Armidale, is in the heart of one of only four key breeding areas for the rare birds.
“It’s shocking to see this woodland, which is critical to the survival of the Regent honeyeater, being bulldozed for beef production,” said ACF nature campaigner Nathaniel Pelle.
“No one wants to buy a steak at a restaurant, or meat from the butcher or supermarket, and find out they are contributing to the extinction of unique Australian wildlife.
“Australia is one of the worst developed nations for deforestation with around 50% of this continent’s woodland and forest cover estimated to have been cleared since colonisation.
“Clearing bush means destroying wildlife habitat. The way we produce some food is putting undue pressure on the homes of our unique plants and animals.
“If we want future generations of Australians to be able to see koalas, gang gang cockatoos and Regent honeyeaters in the wild, we simply must stop knocking down their homes.
“We call on federal environment minister Tanya Plibersek to urgently intervene and instruct her department to investigate the circumstances around this habitat destruction.
“More broadly, we need the Albanese government to strengthen Australia’s national nature protection laws and create an independent regulator to enforce them.
“The beef industry needs to get serious about its commitments to climate and biodiversity by reining in bad operators – or the whole industry will suffer.”
This landclearing came to light through ACF’s crowdsourced investigation project. Once the land clearing was identified, from examining changes to satellite data, ACF verified the damage on site and wrote to the landowner.
The clearing will be illegal under national environment law if it is likely to have a significant impact on the Regent honeyeater and does not have the Environment Minister’s approval.
ACF research shows roughly half Australia’s GDP (49% or $896 billion) has a moderate to very high direct dependence on nature – and agriculture has a very high dependence.