Governments have a tendency to support green initiatives – but just as long as they don’t block big bucks. This is especially true for Australia’s mining minister, Bill Marmion, who said of the country’s majestic Great Western Woodlands, “Any sort of recognition which would put constraints on mining would be absolutely devastating.”
On the other side of the coin, these unprotected woodlands are constantly under the threat of industrial and mining encroachment. They are the largest remaining woodlands in the world and home to 3,000 species of flowering plants. Despite containing one-quarter of all eucalypt species and 20 percent of all flowering plants of Australia, only 12 percent of the Great Western Woodlands are protected.
Sadly enough, the “constraint” Marmion talks about is not a small piece of land. The Wilderness Society has reported that converting even 500,000 out of 16 million hectares of the Great Western Woodland to farmland, a much greener choice than mining, would lead to 40 million ton of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
The Wilderness Society’s Peter Robertson explained that more than half of the Great Western Woodland is recorded as unallocated crown land. This makes demanding protection for the woodland all the more difficult.
“We basically have the situation where, because it’s unallocated crown land, we’re saying the state does not value this, so developers and mining companies can come along and think the area has no value,” he said.
With scientists and environmentalists showing concrete proof of an approaching sixth mass extinction, destruction of woodlands may be an unbearable hit to the atmosphere.