pastoral landscape with a river

Contested environments: Biodiversity conservation or license to destroy?

Australia’s environment protection and conservation laws are meant to preserve nature while enabling urban development. But are these laws fit for purpose?

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This event was held at the Chau Chak Wing Museum on 19 September 2023.

Australia’s legal frameworks for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection are intended to preserve and enhance the nation’s natural and cultural heritage while enabling appropriate forms of urban development and infrastructure.

Yet Commonwealth Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation law has been deemed unfit for purpose, while the states pledge ongoing reforms to make land use systems faster and more responsive to enable residential development and major projects.

Key issues include certification and offsetting processes for biodiversity or heritage and whether alternative approaches, from avoiding development altogether to better protecting and enhancing conservation outcomes, are possible. 

Hosted in partnership with the Henry Halloran Research Trust.  


Rachel Walmsley, Head of Policy & Law Reform, Environmental Defenders Office

Rowena Welsh-Jarrett, Indigenous Heritage Expert, Bila Group

Associate Professor Ed Couzens, Law School, the University of Sydney

Professor Rosemary Lyster (Chair), Climate and Environmental Law, the University of Sydney