Protect NT Rivers from damaging land clearing

To: Chief Minister Natasha Fyles and Environment Minister Lauren Moss,

I, like many Territorians, am very concerned about what was revealed in the 7:30 Report recently in relation to land clearing on the banks of our rivers, including the iconic Daly River. The follow-up story in the ABC News published on Friday 3 February, titled Aboriginal land council levels criticism at NT Government over unregulated land clearing, reveals that these concerns are growing.

Our great Territory rivers and coasts are at the heart of our Top End lifestyle. Wet season flows power the natural cycle of our rivers, and our rivers are in turn the lifeblood of our coasts, but land clearing and agricultural pollutants threaten the health of these systems.

The mighty Roper River flows into the Limmen Bight Marine Park. Yet this river is under threat from dams, land clearing, and cotton. This threatens Limmen Bight Marine Park - one of the Territory’s most special natural places - a dugong, turtle, and dolphin hotspot which produces most of the NT’s mudcrabs. The waters, fish and other wildlife move between the Roper and Limmen.

Research published in The Conversation in 2021 has revealed that savannas are the second most intensely collapsing ecosystem in Australia, followed by the mangrove forests in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Any further threats to these ecosystems will only accelerate this collapse, and these threats come at a time when we need to be doing everything in our power to ensure the health of our terrestrial and marine environments. 

That’s why I’m calling on the NT Government to keep our rivers flowing by putting an end to damaging land clearing. I am asking you to protect our rivers, including implementing strong laws around land clearing and waterways as we must mitigate the risk that erosion, sedimentation, and agricultural pollution poses for our rivers and coasts, and our fishing lifestyle and tourism economy.

I urge you to guarantee the health of our rivers and floodplains. This starts with listening to Territory communities calling  for strengthened protections against land clearing and strengthened protections for our rivers and coasts.