Hands Off Habitat!

It’s time to gird our hearts to rebel on habitat destruction. A couple of days ago I mourned, the result of reading the remarkable paper (and covering article) by Jeremy Simmonds and three other Queensland scientists. Why mourn? Well, in my neck of the woods, the southern part of Australia, our bird species, both the “endangered” and the backyard ones), have lost well over half of their original habitat. This in a theoretically sparsely populated nation like Australia!

We all know how this happens even in today’s more environmentally conscious era. Land is needed so land is cleared. Conservationists battle some land or sea loss, using conservation laws, but the land destroyers chip away “in the name of necessity,” citing “low impact,” often gaming the system. Habitat loss appears incremental but it’s inexorable.

Surely now is the time to mark out a line: from now on, no more loss of habitat. None! Humankind must make do with what it has and surely it can do that. Even innocuous land clearing must be resisted.

Surely what we need is the equivalent of an Extinction Rebellion. Of course XR addresses habitat and diversity loss, and species extinction, within its ambit of the consequences of unaddressed climate change, but its bigger goals to do with emissions must stand paramount. What I visualise is something focused on precisely habitat loss, a calculus of square kilometres carried out by scientists.

Under legislation called for by such a movement, the onus of proof would not be on the negative impacts on “biodiversity” or this or that species. No, the onus of proof would be on the land clearing applicant – he/she/it would need to prove any land cleared has de minimis impact on all non-human species. Such a movement would defend all land under threat.

What might we call this movement? Land Moratorium? Land Protectorate? Hands Off Habitat? Expulsion Rebellion?