On World Environment Day 2016, Northern Rivers Environment Groups met to discuss the forthcoming election. Candidates for the electorates of Page and Richmond will be asked to state their positions on environment issues.

A meeting of representatives of environment groups from throughout the northern rivers was held at Bungawalbin on Saturday to identify environmental issues for the Federal election. They identified a broad range of issues of national significance that they will be requesting federal candidates for the seats of Richmond and Page to clearly state their positions on so that voters can take the environment into account when deciding who to vote for.

The groups resolved that as an outcome of this election it is vital that urgent action is taken to redress the unfolding climate emergency that is killing the Great Barrier Reef, spreading dieback through our local forests and threatening the northern river's internationally significant biodiversity.

"To buy us time to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions it is essential that we restore and enhance forests' roles as carbon sinks. We are asking candidates to ensure the maximisation of carbon sequestration and storage in forests by supporting an end to the logging of native forests on public land, the clearing of native forests on private land, and the burning of native forests for electricity" said Dailan Pugh of the North East Forest Alliance.

"Landholders should be rewarded for protecting and rehabilitating native forests. We are asking candidates to commit to using their best endeavours to direct carbon credits into providing incentives to landholders to protect native vegetation, undertake weed control, revegetate wildlife corridors and repair stream buffers" said John Edwards of the Clarence Environment Centre

"Tens of thousands of hectares of our local forests are suffering from dieback and it is rapidly getting worse. Lantana is taking over their understories and the trees are dead and dying. It is a national environmental disaster that is being exasperated by climate change. It requires a massive rehabilitation effort to fix our forests up so that they can once again become carbon sinks" said Jim Morrison, President of the North Coast Environment Council.

The groups considered that local representatives have avoided their obligations to protect matters of National Environmental Significance for far too long, and are calling on candidates to take specific actions to protect the full diversity of national treasures: world heritage properties, national heritage places, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, wetlands of international importance, threatened species and ecological communities, Commonwealth marine areas, migratory species, and water resources.

The groups resolved that both State and Federal Governments have been negligent by not taking the action needed to redress the ongoing decline of the iconic Koala, as evidenced by the listing of the Tweed coast population as endangered.

"NSW’s Roads & Maritime Services have demonstrated a total disregard for the future of Ballina's Koalas by not deviating from their proposal to push the highway through the most important Koala population in Ballina Shire. Independent koala ecologists and international specialists have found their Ballina Koala Plan and underpinning population viability analysis to be seriously flawed. None of the mitigation measures proposed will alleviate the route’s negative effects. We ask candidates to help ensure that Ballina's koalas are protected into the future by making representations to the Federal Environment Minister to move the route for Section 10 away from them" said Lorraine Vass, President Friends of the Koala

"Our hinterland Koalas are in trouble too. Koalas to the south of Casino have been found to be in serious decline. Two areas of public land, Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests, have been identified as core habitat important for the Koala's survival.  We ask candidates to support the creation of the Sandy Creek National Park over these areas" said Geoff Reid of the Casino Environment Centre.

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