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Bahrs Scrub and Climate Change Legislation

Development planning for Bahrs Scrub occurs in the modern context of anthropogenic climate change acknowledgement and awareness, biodiversity decline, and a burgeoning world and national population. Social, economic and environmental implications of the above are numerous, diverse and far-reaching; however a unifying thread is the global recognition that past human practices cannot continue without drawing the Earth, its resources, landscapes, and life forms, including the human species, to cataclysm.

Whether individuals and politicl parties choose to accept or reject the legitimacy of the majority of climate scientists who warn that there is an enormous and fatal risk that human activities are casuing rapid climate change, since 2007, the majority opinion of the world's nations is to address this risk. Consequently, nations will implement - or have already implemented - sweeping changes to legislation in relation to bringing down greenhouse gases and emissions reductions targets, albeit some more meaningful than others.

Despite the failure of world leaders at the United Nations COP 15 at Copenhagen in December 2009 to achieve consensus on a binding emissions reductions target, and despite our own government's difficulties in establishing a meaningful legislative approach to addressing the risks posed by climate scientists by introducing either an Emissions Trading Scheme, Carbon Price or other overarching system to effectively bring down greenhouse emissions, there is little doubt that some form of climate change legislation will be set in place for Australia in the near future. Even if Australia fails to implement climate change legislation, the requirements set in place for international interaction by many other countries in regard to their own climate change legislation will have ultimately a significant impact on the Australian economy and way of life.

So, regardless of whether we believe in anothropogenic climate change or not, regardless of whether the Labor Government ETS Scheme is passed or whether the Opposition version, or the Australian Greens' version is implemented, some form of legislation will soon come into place regarding emissions reductions.

For this reason, any project that causes a rise in greenhouse emissions will become extremely expensive. Conversely, any project that contributes to reducing greenhouse emissions will become lucrative.

The conservation of Bahrs Scrub forest will be a valuable asset for Australia, the State and Logan City under pending climate change legislation.

Allowing the destruction of Bahrs Scrub forest will result in very high greenhouse emissions mitigation costs to the Council and the developer; this signiicant cost will be passed on to the ratepayer and the consumer. Allowing this destruction would be a very short-sighted decision by LCC, which still has the opportunity to exercise good judgement and foresight, and recognise that the moral and monetary costs involved in developing Bahrs Scrub are much too high.






Climate Change and Bahrs Scrub

As it stands, the Bahrs Scrub Precinct provides valuable refuge for a stunning variety of plants and animals, some of which have survived nowhere else on the planet. Bahrs Scrub forest and non-forest vegetation also serves humankind by acting as a vital carbon sink as considerable amounts of carbon is stored in trees and plants. When modern development practices decimate a landscape by wiping out vegetation, crucial habitat is also lost and with it the intricate array of species within an ecosystem; planet heating carbon dioxide is also released into the atmosphere when vegetation is destroyed, turning a valuable carbon sink into an emissions source modern civilization can no longer afford.

Australia, the continent likely to be hardest hit by global climate change, is still destroying vegetation at an alarming and irresponsible rate. In Logan City, urbanization is a primary cause of this unsustainable loss of natural habitat as authorities take little meaningful action either to cap population or to stem the sprawling construction of housing and industry to serve this alarming growth.

Since the precise effects of climate change at local level are difficult to predict and will occur over varying time frames, the exact future of Bahrs Scrub flora and fauna is unknown. However, general trends towards a drier continent, with greater risk of fire and drought and inevitable loss of habitat will spell disaster throughout the natural environment, including the special setting of Bahrs Scrub. Climate change will advantage a few species of plants and creatures over others, leading to the loss of the great biodiversity of the Precinct, which has managed to survive the past centuries of development as one of the last remnants of the uncommon vegetation that once predominated throughout the Albert and Pimpama River Valleys. Since climate change will have drastic effects on regional ecosystems, immediate and rigorous protection of what still thrives is warranted.

Predictions for the effects of climate change on ecosystems   make the outlook grim for Bahrs Scrub, the Border Ranges and any small reserve. Studies are already showing the retreat of moisture-providing cloud to higher altitudes, thus affecting tall forests and limiting the re-colonisation of tree species at lower altitudes. Secondary foliage is also being impacted upon by loss of moisture, and fauna such as bird species are either relocating or failing to breed.

Temperature and humidity studies are required for vegetation within the Bahrs Scrub Precinct, the canopy and perimeters require re-afforestation and gullies and niches require retrofitting for water retention to aid the survival of precious fauna in order to withstand the oncoming effects of climate change.

Warnings from scientists and conservationists for decades about the catastrophic risk of global warming and climate change have at last been legitimized by government bodies around the world, including our own. Action on climate change, whether preventative or adaptative, is required in virtually every facet of modern life, none more significant than the practices associated with the spread of urbanization.

While the Australian Government’s present focus is on increasing the nation’s population through high immigration intake and domestic birth incentives, pressure on the fragile ecosystems of this continent from urban sprawl and development, particularly in coastal regions, remains extremely high. Old-fashioned practices such as clear-felling all forest for site preparation, and perspectives which are still attuned to the era of unlimited expansion predominate in the greater majority of development instances, and in policy, legislation and decision-making.

Governments, developers and consumers are still failing to accommodate meaningful climate change action into practice, despite the global consensus demonstrated by United Nations COPs, including Copenhagen 2009, and the rhetoric of public information disseminated by all levels of Australian government, including Logan City Council. While paying lip service to concepts such as ‘sustainability’, ‘carbon storage’, ‘emissions reductions’, and even ‘climate emergency’, the Qld Government and LCC are failing in practice to implement tangible changes immediately required in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, thereby honouring our region’s shared commitment to this global obligation to save the planet. By failing to immediately curtail severely destructive development practices, the state and local authorities are also derelict in their elected duty to protect the natural environment and give local biodiversity a fighting chance against the inevitable and largely unpredictable ravages of climate change.

This is the era when individuals, businesses and governments should be doing our utmost to preserve and regenerate ecosystems of all varieties, especially biodiversity hotspots. Destruction of vegetation in the present time of awareness of the massive impacts of human activity is not merely immoral as we neglect our duty to preserve the lifeforms that share this planet, but dangerous for our own survival, as we speed the processes that are driving climate change. The decision to develop the biodiversity hotspot that is the Bahrs Scrub Precinct is reprehensible and must be reversed. The flora and fauna conservation values of Bahrs Scrub warrant the preservation and regeneration of this precious area within Logan City Council.