The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia today expressed concern at the area of tree clearing revealed in the latest NSW Government Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) report.
The SLATS report reveals 51,400 hectares of forest and woody vegetation was lost in 2020, showing that tree clearing is continuing at a worrying rate.
“This report should be a wake-up call for the NSW government,” said Dr Stuart Blanch, a conservation scientist at WWF-Australia.
“We can’t afford to continue bulldozing and logging forests at this rate. NSW needs to commit to transitioning out of forest destruction and into reforestation and plantations to protect koalas and other wildlife.
“This will help us to Regenerate Australia, store carbon in forests, and generate new income streams from natural capital markets.
“Today’s report shows 74% of woody vegetation loss was ‘unallocated’, which reflects the ongoing risks created by weak native vegetation laws and self-assessment by landholders.
“Almost half of the clearing of forests and woodlands on rural land was for agriculture.
“It is heartening to see the rate of deforestation continue to decline to 13,000 hectares in 2020, but this could be explained in large part due to the extreme weather in 2019/20.”
Dr Blanch said the NSW Government should make publicly available all the spatial data, not just the summary data, in the interests of transparency.
“Queensland releases all of its spatial data on landcover change. The NSW government should do the same,” he said.
Dr Blanch said NSW should also commit to implementing the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.”