The Top End is blessed with one of the most incredible environments on earth.Visitors come from across Australia and around the world to experience the spectacular natural environment we enjoy every day in the NT.
Our tourism industry and Territory lifestyle depend on us looking after the bush, caring for our wildlife and keeping our rivers and seas healthy and clean.
But right now the Territory is facing an unprecedented push for resource extraction. There is increasing pressure to dig mines in some of our most precious natural areas, divert rivers, build dams, bulldoze roads, drill for oil and gas, clear woodlands and become the ‘foodbowl for Asia’.
We recently released a report Undermining the Outback? No boundaries in race to mine Northern Territory’s special places. The report proves that large areas of our national parks, rivers and waterways are being targeted for minerals. 94% of Litchfield National Park, 60% of the Daly River catchment and 78% of the new Limmen National Park and Marine Park already have exploration licences granted over them.
Now more than ever we need to make sure we get the balance right. There is a high cost to be paid for badly managed resource extraction. Too often short term gain brings long term problems. We have to act to protect the natural environment on which our tourism industry and Territory lifestyle depend. We need to avoid the mistakes made down South.
Spectacular but under threat, the Top End is home to:
- Tropical savanna woodlands – The core of the world’s largest intact tropical savanna, these woodlands and grasslands protect our unique wildlife and store billions of tonnes of carbon but are under threat from land clearing for industrial agriculture and tree plantations.
- Healthy river systems – We have amazing rivers like the Daly, Mary, Roper, McArthur and the Adelaide, but they are at risk from dams, over extraction, pollution, mines, weeds, feral animals and land clearing.
- Amazing marine ecosystems – The NT is home to one of the healthiest tropical marine ecosystems on the planet, but less than 1% is fully protected. These waters are a haven for rare and threatened species including sea turtles, dugongs, sawfish and snubfin dolphins. Tragically, they are under threat from sea-bed mining, seismic blasting, oil and gas spills and damaging fishing practices.
New Country Liberal Government
With a new Country Liberal Government elected in August 2012, now more than ever we need to ensure that the Territory;
- Has strong laws in place to control land clearing.
- Protects iconic rivers like the Daly from dams, mining and pollution.
- Establishes a world class network of marine sanctuaries.
Despite 11 years in office, Labor failed to deliver on these key environmental commitments. The challenge for the incoming Country Liberal Government will be to deliver where Labor has failed. During the 2012 election campaign we heard little environment policy from the Country Liberals on these key issues other than:
- A promise not to dam the Daly
- A commitment to review exploration and mining in National Parks
- A ‘common-sense’ approach to marine parks
This is a start but Terry Mills’ new Government will need to do much more if it is to hand on a healthy Territory environment to future generations. Promises to “streamline and speed up processes for activities such as land clearing” could have devastating consequences for our largely intact tropical savannah woodlands.
- Congratulate Chief Minister Terry Mills on his election to Government but let him know you want him to protect our environment and Territory lifestyle, not destroy it. Call him on (08) 8901 4000 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write a letter to the editor of the NT News about why the new Country Liberals Government needs to protect our environment, not hand it over to developers. email email@example.com
- Stay up to date – Follow us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org receive updates and information about upcoming events and ways you can help.