Book Review – A Wide and Open Land: Walking the Last of Western Sydney’s Woodlands

Author: Peter Ridgeway (2022)

Reviewer: Julie Sheppard, Macarthur Branch

The author has, in this book, achieved a long held ambition to document what most Sydney-siders have on their doorstep but barely acknowledge, value or respect. “Cumberland Plain” is a term few recognise or understand (“Cumberland Plain Woodland” even less so). The natural features of the region, its unique geology, flora and fauna are being obliterated at a terrifying pace – The conquest of the Cumberland Plain is the largest construction project ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. Every minute more than 100 tonnes of concrete and aggregate is laid in the rural valley of the Plain, 8 tonnes a year for every man, woman and child. (p.2)

Book Review – The Nutmeg’s Curse

By Amitav Ghosh, The Nutmeg’s Curse, Parables for a Planet in Crisis, John Murray 2021

Review by NPA Book Club

Some of us knew Ghosh as a fiction writer with a Bengali background and nature friendly perspective. Here he takes a scholarly and passionate approach to the current crisis of imminent planetary collapse. He begins with the Dutch finding nutmeg in the Banda islands in the 17th century and their subsequent dispossession and extermination of the human inhabitants.

The ‘30 by 30’ enironmental commitment: economic costs and benefits

Dr Ross Jeffree, NPA State Councillor

Both the current and previous Federal governments have made verbal commitments to ’30 by 30’: the effective protection and conservation of at least 30% of the planet by 2030. This national commitment is in accord with international scientific consensus that 30% is a minimum target for land, sea and freshwater to protect and conserve key biodiversity values; including species at risk, high-biodiversity areas, key migration sites, spawning areas, and ecologically intact areas which protect large-scale ecological processes. (Adding in climate refugia and areas of high carbon density increases the area required to over 50%.)

Achieving effective protection and conservation of at least 30% of the planet by 2030 is also a critical step toward achieving the CBD’s (Convention on Biological Diversity) 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature, as well as post-2020 ambitions for biodiversity. IUCN has already adopted a resolution in 2016 that calls on IUCN State Members to designate at least 30% of each marine habitat in a network of highly protected marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs; also referred to here as “conserved areas”).

The Challenge of 30 by 30

Ross McDonnell, Convenor, NPA Landscape Conservation Forum

The NPA’s Landscape Conservation Forum (LCF) recognises the challenge ahead for NSW if it is to make an equitable contribution to the evolving Commonwealth Government policy of achieving ’30 by 30’. Articles in this Journal by WWF’s Dr Stuart Blanch and NPA’s Dr Ross Jeffree focus on the National Reserve System and the supporting economic context, but a considerable challenge exists on how NSW develops and implements a suitable response.

Broadly speaking, it will come down to what types of protection and management measures will be counted as contributing to a 30% target, and will there be a coordinated NSW approach?

For NPA a consideration is how does it focus its advocacy role in support of ’30 by 30’. The LCF, in considering this, has focused on promoting a broadening of the IUCN’s protected area classifications to include areas (land and waters) where the rehabilitation and restoration of natural values is required. The ’30 by 30’ target can also be legitimately met if it includes appropriately managed Crown Lands such as travelling stock routes, road reserves or verges with known natural values, and Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs). In addition, a significant contribution would occur if NSW followed Victoria and Western Australia and ceased forestry in native forests and those areas were transferred to NPWS management.