Tiwi Islands – Northern Territory

Land clearing threatens Tiwi Islands

Posted by laurenmellor83 on September 20, 2007

The Tiwi Islands, off Darwin, are in danger of becoming a wasteland because of excessive land clearing, the Australian Greens say.

Greens senator Christine Milne told parliament the islands, an Aboriginal reserve, had high biodiversity value across an environment ranging from eucalypt forests and tropical savanna to rainforest.

The two islands, Bathurst and Melville, were particularly important as a biodiversity zone as more and more parts of the mainland Northern Territory were damaged by cane toads.

But a proposal to clear more forested land threatened the Tiwi islands’ unique environment, she said.

“These forested areas in the Tiwi islands are now the subject of a major clear-felling and woodchipping project approved by the Howard government in 2001,” she said.

“The Tiwi islands are becoming an industrial monoculture.

“Deforestation is when you have natural forest areas cleared for crops, and that is precisely what is now happening up in the Tiwi islands.”

The land clearing was contrary to the Howard government’s global initiatives on forests and climate, she said.

Senator Milne said the federal government had approved 31,000 hectares of Tiwi islands forest for clearing since 1998.

“It must stop. It’s particularly important to draw attention to it now because there is a proposal to add additional areas to be cleared to take it up to 80,000 hectares,” she said.

“That would, for the first time, see an inclusion of 20,000 hectares of forest clearing on Bathurst island.”

She called for the proposal to be more thoroughly investigated.

Charles Roche, coordinator of the Environment Centre NT, later called on the government and opposition to make clear their position on the clearing of land on the Tiwi Islands.

“We commend Senator Milne and the Australian Greens for speaking out about landclearing on the Tiwi Islands and call upon the Liberal and Labor parties to announce their position on landclearing for plantations on the Tiwi Islands,” he said.

“How could any responsible government or political support the landclearing of woodlands to establish plantations?”

from the Age

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