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March 01st 2013 print

Julia Patrick

Green Dreaming of a Human-Free Environment

In 2001, US cattle rancher Ken Freeman made an unnerving discovery: under the auspices of the UN, his ranch in Alabama showed up dark green on the Environment Protection Agency’s map. The code for dark green read: “Human-free habitat”.

Environmental treaties with the United Nations have never been formally ratified by the US Congress, so after a prolonged stoush, Ken and his newly formed Alliance for Citizens’ Rights successfully thwarted the UN’s intention to remove their livelihood and drive them off their land. Alabama then became the first state in the USA where “infringement on the property rights of citizens linked to any other international law … is prohibited”. 

Australia’s situation is quite different. The 1999 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and a plethora of legislation relying on our obligations as signatories to international conventions have made us subservient to the UN. It has us over a barrel.

The push to remake Australia as a socialist state, under the guise of concern for the environment, is mightily emboldened by these obligations, as we’re overwhelmed by a dizzying, increasing multitude of green projects and “initiatives” that are breathtaking in their breadth and brazen in their audacity. 

Quietly announced by Labor’s Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, on November 4, and flying under the radar, is the National Wildlife Corridors Plan. The intention of this fancifully destructive scheme is to preserve land for the exclusive use of plant and animal wildlife as they fly, hop or crawl along their personalised routes that “will connect habitat patches within and across borders, along rainfall and altitudinal gradients and stretch across Australia”.

Connectivity is the buzzword; habitat patches, protected areas and national parks must be connected to “make the landscape habitable for communities of plants and animals, allowing their movement, adaptation and evolution”. Farming, grazing, an orchard or a bee farm must give way before the need of the Wallum sedge frog or the golden sun moth to multiply freely without intrusion by man.

The term “human-free habitat” is not used to describe the scheme, but in this theatre of the absurd the intention is the same. The word corridor implies something narrow, but Burke’s corridors will slice wide swathes through Australia, including large areas of private land, in wide, unbroken chains.

There are several existing corridor “foundation stones”. They include Habitat 141, trumpeting itself as “Ocean to Outback—a vision for conserving, restoring and reconnecting ecosystems” covering 18 million hectares and stretching across the borders of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The Great Eastern Ranges is a 3600-kilometre initiative “to protect and connect native ecosystems from central Victoria to far north Queensland”. Needing protection here are the spotted-tailed quoll and the dusky antechinus.  

“The intent” of the Trans-Australia Eco-Link “is to create a wide band of connectivity stretching 3500 km from Arnhem Land in the north to Port Augusta in the south”, while The Gondwana Link Ltd in Western Australia “could prove important for ecological adaptation to climate change”. Climate change is frequently called upon to give evidence in the Corridors Plan.

The Plan is rich with beguiling, feel-good senti­ments. Pictures show earnest-looking people huddling over maps or planting seedlings; a girl in a pond with a fish net represents employment opportunities. Strangely, there’s a picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, albeit with a tree trunk poking up in the foreground. Make of that what you will.  

As the Plan’s fifty pages rattle on with pretentious bureau-babble of “riparian vegetation”, “resilience thinking”, “spatial scales” and references ad nauseam to ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity, the core objective of putting productive land out of reach remains unchanged. But it is coyly vague on how all this will be managed; there may be “diverse governance arrangements”, “cross-jurisdictional collaboration” and “partnerships involving governments, conservation groups, NGOs, private landholders, industry, philanthropic organisations, businesses, indigenous and community groups” and similar blather. And who pays?

We, the public, are “invited” to put up nominations for new corridors—which could be along Aboriginal songlines—for assessment by that faceless entity, an “independent council”.

As for private land, Burke says, “Participation … is voluntary”, adding “The Plan does not, of itself, lock up any land.” What does “of itself” mean?

Free of human endeavour, land cannot be farmed or grazed to create an income; then what choice does the landowner have except to leave—voluntarily? Private land is under siege simply by making it untenable to live on.

Fabian gradualism is the game plan; Jan Davis, CEO of the Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association, sums it up precisely:

What you smell here is a farmland version of bracket creep. First it’s voluntary, then under pressure from ENGOs and Green coalition partners, it becomes an imposed regime, that imposed regime becomes intergenerational as covenants on freehold land become binding on the next generation of Tasmanian farmers.

The environmental push took off seriously in 1992 when a collection of power-hungry luminaries (among them Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Gore and Paul Keating) met in Rio and formed “a global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem”. While stating that “Environmental education is not neutral but ideological. It is a political act”, the conference gave itself the appealingly benign name of “Earth Summit” to conceal its intention.

The environmental movement is a vast global network of interlocking organisations and myriad fiefdoms with unelected representatives; it is simply a smokescreen for promoting the socialist agenda worldwide—exactly as the Earth Summit intended. So far, it’s been a thumping success. 

Julia Patrick writes on social and electoral issues.