Environment Protection Minister puts biodiversity first and rejects mining extension proposal on Christmas Island.
Humane Society International (HSI) applauds Minister Garrett's recent refusal, under the powers of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 199 (EPBC), to allow a proposal to expand phosphate mining on Christmas Island due to its potential and real impacts on nationally listed threatened species, migratory species and Commonwealth land.
After the proposal had been previously rejected in 2007 by former environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, whose decision was then overturned by the Federal Court, Minister Garrett has successfully rejected the development and in doing so saved approximately 250 hectares of fragile rainforest ecosystem and habitat from being cleared.
HSI's Campaign Director, Michael Kennedy said, “HSI is glad Minister Garrett has recognised and helped promote the importance of Christmas Island's conservation and sustainable development. His rejection of the mining extension puts significant emphasis on improved environmental governance of the island's already degraded ecosystems.”
Nominated for heritage listing, and with 63% already protected as National Park, Christmas Island's unique biodiversity faces constant development pressures that threaten habitats and species. 12,000 hectares of the Island's natural areas are also protected on the EPBC's Commonwealth Heritage List.
Significant species on the island include the red crab, endemic to the island and a keystone species; the Christmas Island goshawk; the Christmas Island hawk-owl, endangered; the threatened Abbott's booby, endemic and endangered; the Christmas Island frigate bird, endemic and endangered; and the Christmas Island pipistrelle, now critically endangered.
In 2009, a government Expert Working Group, investigating Christmas Island's significant biodiversity, reported that it was in a perilous state.
Particular praise goes to the Environment Protection Minister who recognised that the economic and social benefits of the proposed mining expansion do not outweigh the impacts on local threatened species and their habitats.
Mr Kennedy concluded, “The Island's unique ecology is already facing extreme pressures which threatens biodiversity. In the International Year of Biodiversity, HSI congratulates the Minister for protecting the island's unique species and habitats and considering the importance of Christmas Island's conservation and environmental management.”