Australia's Controversial Adani Coal Mine Now One Approval Away From Construction
The Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) said it accepted an updated plan that Adani had submitted May 28 which complied with requests made by the department to ensure the protection of the endangered species. The mine now needs one more environmental approval to begin construction.
"Assessment of this plan has been a rigorous process, informed by the best available science," a DES spokesperson said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "DES has met regularly with Adani to ensure that the plan is robust and is well-placed to deliver the best outcomes for the protection of the black-throated finch."
However, conservationists are concerned the plan will not do enough to protect the finch, whose most significant known population lives on the mine site in the Galilee Basin.
We're in the middle of an extinction crisis. We can't let more precious wildlife be lost forever because of the gre… https://t.co/1PJw10xxaG— Stop Adani (@Stop Adani)1559275874.0
Adani has said it will preserve an area for the species next to the mine site, but Melbourne University Conservation Ecology Professor Brendan Wintle explained to The Guardian why that might not work.
"They currently don't exist there and they don't currently occupy that habitat," Wintle said. "They need particular grass species to feed. There doesn't appear to be the appropriate grasses on the site. It's the wrong ecology. They've had the opportunity to breed there for 10,000 years and they haven't. This project will significantly increase the risk of extinction for the finch."
Adani must now earn approval on its plans for managing groundwater, and then it can begin construction. It will still need environmental approvals from the federal government before it can start mining coal.
The groundwater decision is due June 13, SBS News reported.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had insisted on approval deadlines after Labor was defeated during federal elections this month in regions that are anxious for the jobs Adani has promised.
"We're obviously encouraged to have that in our hands," Adani's mining CEO Lucas Dow said of the finch plan approval, as Australia's ABC News reported. "We obviously appreciate that the Queensland Department of Environment and Science has met their self imposed timing to be able to conclude this.'
However, environmental groups raised concerns about the approval process.
"Adani's Carmichael project is an instrument of destruction and climate disaster that the Australian legal and regulatory system isn't designed to see for what it is," Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said in a Twitter thread.
Adani's Carmichael project is an instrument of destruction and climate disaster that the Australian legal and regul… https://t.co/6WXDTvWkro— David Ritter (@David Ritter)1559265929.0
Christian Slattery of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) agreed.
"This process is the result of Adani and their mates in the mining industry pressuring the State Government, and rather than stand up to these corporate bullies, the Queensland Government has rolled out the red carpet for them," he told ABC News. "Frankly, the whole process of approvals for this mine stinks."
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.