4 July 2024


The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has called on Senators to strengthen reforms to Australia’s environment laws and close a loophole that allows native forests to be bulldozed.

The call comes after three bills passed through the lower house today as part of the Federal Government’s long-awaited reforms to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The bills will establish a national environment protection agency to enforce Australia’s nature laws and a new body to improve the quality of environmental data.

But the government rejected amendments proposed by independent crossbench MPs that would have strengthened this legislation and removed an exemption that permits native forest logging under Regional Forestry Agreements (RFA).

WWF-Australia’s CEO Dermot O’Gorman urged Senators to support an amendment to end RFA exemptions when the legislation reaches the Senate.

“These agreements create a loophole that allows logging to happen without any assessment under federal legislation,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“Every year an estimated 500,000 hectares of native forests and woodlands are cleared across Australia, destroying the homes of koalas, greater gliders and other endangered species.

“If we allow this to continue, the loss will be irreversible.

“Logging should be assessed under our nature laws like every other activity that impacts the environment.”

Mr O’Gorman also called on Senators to strengthen the independence and integrity of the national environment protection agency.

“Lack of enforcement has been the single greatest failing of the EPBC Act, so we’re pleased to see an EPA at the heart of the government’s reforms,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“This agency has the potential to be a genuine game-changer for the environment, but it must have the resources and independence to do the job properly.

“It should have an independent board to prevent political interference and provide strong oversight of its regulatory powers and operation.

“We urge Senators to support these future-proofing amendments.

“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to fix our failing nature laws. We must get this right to prevent more extinctions and truly regenerate nature.”