Last week, we learned of an exciting victory for our Environmental Investigations Team. And today, finally, we can share it!
In June 2019, we sent our team up to northern Queensland to investigate the approval of land clearing on Meadowbank station – prime habitat for the threatened Greater Glider. This was an area the federal government decided was not home to the glider without even stepping foot on the property to check.
With little more than a pinky promise of no gliders in the area, the federal government waved the approval through.
But we found gliders, and we got the photographic proof. We presented this information to the Federal Environment Department. They didn’t write back. We kept working.
In November, we captured aerial images that showed even more destruction. Some of the Greater Glider habitat set aside for protection was being bulldozed too. This was unacceptable.
And presented with this new evidence, the Federal Environment Department finally took action.
Today, we can confirm that the department has increased the protected Greater Glider habitat on this property by the equivalent of seven football fields. It’s not enough, but for the precious gliders living on this property every single hectare matters. It could mean life or death.
I wish we didn’t have to do the department’s job for them.
But weak environment laws and a federal government unwilling to consider what’s at stake means that our Investigations Team’s work is far from over.
Without our investigatory work even more of this land would have been bulldozed, and many of the animals who called it home would have been killed.
And tragically, that is an outcome we see all too often. You might remember the news of bulldozing continuing in Victoria during the catastrophic fires. Photos of dead koalas on piles of logged trees is something I’ll never forget. The fact that this was legal is gut-wrenching.
But we can do something about it. We can continue our investigations work, and in doing so, expose destruction and corruption and demonstrate how our laws and regulations urgently need fixing.
With your help, we can trawl through jargon-filled environmental approvals and breach notices, hire independent experts and pay for Freedom of Information releases. We will make sure that the Federal Environment Department knows we are watching – and we will take action when they fail to.
Right now, we are investigating two more cases just like this one. Two high-profile areas being illegally cleared. We’re very close to proving that this clearing will risk several threatened species, including possible extinction of at least one of them.
I can’t say more than that right now. Except that your donations will help us continue this work. And in the coming months, when we can share an update, you’ll know that you made it possible.
The cost of this work can go into the tens of thousands for each investigation. But the cost if we don’t? It’s one we can’t afford.
This next year is one of the most important for this work. Our national environment laws are under review. And with the recent catastrophic bushfires destroying so much habitat and pushing our unique animals closer to extinction, every hectare matters.
Right now is our best chance to strengthen these laws, to close the loopholes, and ensure that our environment laws actually protect our environment, not fast-track its destruction.
We can’t give up now. We can’t slow down. We have to keep going, and demanding more from our government. Our job isn’t done yet.
Header photo: Matt Wright