Government and Big Business Funded Landclearing in Australia
Macquarie Bank is Australia’s biggest investment bank with strong ties to all levels of government. Among their many businesses they have some investment funds that are buying up farms and treating them appallingly. The photo below comes from the neighbour of one of the farms owned by Viridis, Macquarie’s specialised cropping company near where I live at Cootamundra in Southern NSW. Macquarie went ahead and cleared beautiful old trees, some probably over 1,000 years old, on a vast scale in order to make their cropping more efficient (that is a whole other story!!).
Ashley, the neighbour, talks about the rare sugar gliders that lived in those trees being wiped out, and the sadness of seeing threatened Superb Parrots circling the wreckage of the trees looking for their old nesting sites.
The response from Macquarie was that it was ok as they would replant 10 new trees for each one bulldozed. Even if true, the idea that you could replace these trees with new ones shows a complete lack of understanding of the biodiversity value of these majestic paddock trees that are full of hollows and provide a haven for bird and animal life. In my mind it is like burning a Rembrant and then giving paintbrushes to 10 infants to compensate.
They also did not consult the local Aboriginal people to do a cultural heritage assessment before doing the clearing. We have a farm very close to this and we have a huge number of Aboriginal artefacts, marked trees and even an ochre quarry on the place that we are protecting with the local Aboriginal Working Group. Who knows what they destroyed when they sent the bulldozers in.
One of the worst aspects is that the taxpayer owned Clean Energy Finance Corporation has invested $100 million into the fund that did the landclearing. According to their website they “invest to lead the market, operating with commercial rigour to address some of Australia’s toughest emissions challenges – in agriculture, energy generation and storage, infrastructure, property, transport and waste. We’re also proud to back Australia’s cleantech entrepreneurs through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund. In investing $10 billion on behalf of the Australian Government, we work to deliver a positive return for taxpayers across our portfolio.”
“Better Crops, Better Future”????
The idea that you can clear land, replace mixed farms with massive monocultures, and get a good carbon outcome because you don’t have to turn the steering wheel on tractors anymore is ridiculous, and totally ignores the loss of soil carbon from these farming practices as well as the carbon that went up in smoke from the burning of the trees. Again this is a huge topic in itself, and one that Charlie Massey writes so well about in his book Call of The Reed Warbler, https://www.amazon.com/Call-Reed-Warbler-Agriculture-Earth/dp/0702253413.
There has been some comment in the media about this but no action is being taken. The farming groups here including LandCare and the National Farmers Federation are not willing to be critical as Macquarie is such a big player with government backing.
There is more info about this here:
I reckon the whole thing stinks, and I find it very frustrating that no-one seems to care enough to stop it happening. I would love to somehow get the message across to the investors in the funds who are doing this, as I hope they would shocked about what their money is doing.
And to know that my money, as an Australian taxpayer, is funding this as well is truly horrifying.