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Northern Land Council commends proposed nature repair law and revised 'Water Trigger'

Joseph Guenzler -

The Northern Land Council (NLC) has commended the Senate's approval of the Nature Repair Market Bill.

Roughly half of the Northern Territory's land and 85 per cent of its coastline are under Aboriginal ownership through freehold title.

With the majority of the remaining land subject to native title, Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory are poised to play a significant role in nature repair initiatives.

Gamilaroi man and NLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said the Bill will be "a game changer" for Aboriginal people across Northern Australia.

"There are limited economic opportunities across the remote communities and homelands in the Northern Territory and a nature repair market will give Traditional Owners in the NLC region new ways to activate the opportunities inherent in their Land Rights," he said.

In the NLC's region, various habitats face substantial threats from feral animals, weeds, and saltwater intrusion in wetland ecosystems and without effective management and investment, these areas are at risk of degradation and irreversible loss.

"This legislation will empower local communities to take on new economic opportunities while ensuring a long-lasting positive impact on our environment," said Mr Martin-Jard

"Creating new environmental markets will give Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory more choice in the economic opportunities they can pursue."

The NLC is committed to assisting Traditional Owners in taking a lead role in the emerging market, which involves developing partnerships with businesses, philanthropists, and other stakeholders willing to invest in the protection and restoration of the country.

The NLC also approved of the amendments to the 'water trigger' of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which ensures assessments of new unconventional gas projects will include an evaluation of their impact on water resources.

The current water trigger mandates proposing coal seam gas or large coal mining developments impacting water resources to refer proposals to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Water under the EPBC Act. The recent amendment broadens this requirement to encompass all new unconventional gas extraction projects.

Water holds paramount importance for Northern Land Council members, serving cultural, domestic, and industrial needs. The NLC, acknowledging the significance of this resource, stressed the necessity for proper oversight and protection of water use.

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