AEGN

Land & biodiversity

The health of Australia’s environment is poor and deteriorating. Pressures from habitat destruction, invasive species, industry and development are amplifying one another and being compounded by climate change. We need robust laws and urgent action to protect and restore nature.  

EPBC Act reforms  

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is Australia’s key national environmental law, regulating activities that are likely to have a significant impact on key environmental values, including threatened species and communities, heritage areas, Ramsar wetlands, migratory species and water resources. 

The 20-year review of the EPBC Act (the Samuel Review) found that the law is not fit for purpose – almost all biodiversity indictors have gone backwards since the Act was introduced.  The government has committed to broad scale reforms to better protect Australia’s environment.   

What’s been happening?
  • The government announced it will proceed with establishing an independent EPA and Environment Information Australia, but will delay broader EPBC reforms for a later tranche. ENGOs have criticised this approach, noting that comprehensive reforms are urgently needed.
    To attend the DCCEEW briefing on the proposed EPA and EIA on 19 April, register here.  
  • Walker Corporation has withdrawn its proposal for the Toondah Harbour development after Minister Plibersek announced her intention to reject the development, due to unacceptable impacts on Ramsar wetlands and threatened species
  • The Senate Environment Committee released its review of the Climate Trigger Bill, which proposed inserting a climate trigger into the EPBC Act. The Labor-led Committee said a new trigger was not needed, preferring to deal with emissions under the Safeguard Mechanism and improved transparency of emissions data under the EPBC Act.
  • The Federal Environment Minister used the EPBC Act to reject a wind farm proposal in Victoria as “clearly unacceptable”, citing impacts on Ramsar wetlands  
  • The Federal Court rejected the Living Wonders challenge to the Environment Minister’s approval of Narrabri and Mt Pleasant coal mine expansions, confirming that the Minister was not required to consider climate impacts when making decisions under the EPBC Act.  The decision has been appealed
  • The water trigger under the EPBC Act was expanded to include all unconventional gas (not just CSG) as part of negotiations for passage of the Nature Repair Market Bill 2023
What’s coming up?
  • Throughout 2024 – targeted consultation on EPBC Act reforms
  • 17 April 2024 – Senate Environment Committee inquiry into Australia’s extinction crisis will hear evidence about EPBC reforms
  • 23 April 2024 – submissions due on proposed rejection of Toondah Harbour
  • 28 June 2024 – Extinction inquiry final report released
  • Late 2024 – final EPBC reforms introduced to parliament (followed by a public Senate inquiry)

What is the AEGN doing?
  • Helping to connect members with eNGOs working to address the nature crisis, and identify where funding is needed to support advocacy efforts (urgent or long term)  
  • Working with Places You Love Alliance members and First Nations organisations to identify ways to support and amplify their lobbying activities
  • Making submissions to the EPBC reform process (read our most recent submission here)
  • Hosting expert briefings on EPBC reforms as targeted consultation continues (watch recordings of the briefings: #1 ; #2, #3 and #4)  

What can AEGN members do?

Nature positive outcomes  

The Australian government has released its Nature Positive Plan and signed on to the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework nature positive goals and 30% by 2030 targets for reservation of land and water.  Much more is needed to achieve the stated aims of a nature positive approach to biodiversity management. 

What’s been happening?

What’s coming up?

What is the AEGN doing?
  • Helping to connect members with eNGOs working to address the nature crisis, and identify where funding is needed to support advocacy efforts (urgent or long term)  
  • Working with Places You Love Alliance members and First Nations eNGOs to identify ways to support and amplify their lobbying activities
  • Including discussions of nature positive approaches at the 2024 AEGN Conference
  • Facilitating member conversations about offsets
  • Updating members on Taskforce for Nature-related financial disclosures and climate reporting obligations   
  • Calling for increased government funding and collaboration to build the National Reserve System and meet 30 x 30 targets 

What can AEGN members do?

Forest conservation 

Forests are critical to biodiversity, erosion prevention, soil conservation, water filtration, and the carbon cycle. Across Australia, forests are at risk of destruction from commercial logging, clearing for urban and industrial expansion, tourism and fuel reduction burns. Calls for robust vegetation clearance laws and an end to native forest logging are intensifying as forest resources are depleted.  

What’s been happening?

What’s coming up?
  • Throughout 2024 – targeted consultation on draft new national environment laws and national standards, including for forestry operations   
  • 29 April 2024 – comments due on Central Highlands State Forest conversation (Victoria)
  • 28 June 2024 – Senate Inquiry into Extinction final report  
  • Ongoing state-based reviews – NSW government is expected to respond to the Henry review, SA is developing a new Biodiversity Act, and WA is developing a new Native Vegetation policy 
What is the AEGN doing?
  • Identifying opportunities for forest advocacy through the Project Clearinghouse  
  • Continuing to ensure we use sustainable resources for AEGN operations and events
  • Updating members on campaigns and advocacy opportunities  

What can AEGN members do?

Background resources


Organisations working on this issue 

Useful government contacts  

Become a member

It’s been exciting to see the growth in sophistication of how the AEGN operates. For the benefit of all.

Hayley Morris, Morris Family Foundation