Queensland’s land clearing laws: a victory for health

Queensland contributed 19 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in 2015 from land clearing, which was 80 percent of all the greenhouse gas from land use change in Australia for that year. After much anticipation, Queensland’s land clearing laws were finally passed last month. The laws are a significant step forward. The Annastacia Palaszczuk Government’s land clearing bill will start rectifying much of the terrible damage done to Queensland’s bushland, ecosystems and wildlife under the previous Liberal National Party government.  As explained by Lucy-Jane Watt, DEA secretary of the DEA QLD committee, this is a health issue. Read full article in Croakey.

Tasmanian Times: Doctors alarmed by renewed Tarkine destruction

DEA doctors in Tasmania have been alarmed to see escalated threats to biodiversity with renewed and seemingly accelerated destruction of native forests in the takayna / Tarkine region. DEA has called for a halt in logging. Read more.

The Courier-Mail; Protection of marine ecosystems risks being watered down

At a time when marine ecosystems are under threat from climate change increase in sea water temperature and local pollution, widespread cutbacks to marine sanctuaries are proposed by the Coalition government. Read the article by Katherine Barraclough. This is a further indication of the governments ignorance on the fundamental importance of ecosystems to human existence detailed in a recent DEA submission.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are important

The United Nations sets these goals not just for developing countries but for all countries including Australia. Although Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, our SDG targets, particularly on health and the environment, have slipped 6 places in the last reporting year to 26th place globally. Furthermore, our overseas development aid to help others attain their goals is inadequate. DEA has made a submission to Parliament on SDGs

The planet’s health is no place for politics, and new laws for Australia might just make it so

The recent proposal from legal experts and the Environmental Alliance for new environmental laws recognises that health and the environment are indivisible. It is now the task of doctors' organisations to develop their input. This is a preventative health issue above all, and needs recognition of common cause between doctors and the environmental movement. This article in Croakey explains how reform of climate change and air pollution policy can begin.

DEA and a new generation of national environmental laws: time to make history in law reform

A delegation of DEA doctors (Ben Ewald, Arnagretta Hunter, Selina Lo) attended the "Better Laws for a Better Planet Symposium" hosted by the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL), IUCN Australia Committee, National Environmental Law Association, and Places You Love Alliance, on March 27, in Canberra at University House Hotel.

Why Australians need a national environment protection agency to safeguard their health

Australia needs an independent National Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard the environment and deliver effective climate policy, according to a new campaign launched today by a coalition of environmental, legal and medical organisations, including DEA. The initiative was launched today in Canberra and David Shearman has written this article to explain its role.

Read the full article

Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory submission

The Federal Government has produced a biodiversity conservation strategy paper which is deeply flawed in its assessments and fails to understand the urgency for action. In response, DEA has written a submission which demands action.

Reform of National Environmental Laws; light amongst the darkness

This is a developing issue of great importance. Many DEA members would have seen a leak to The Guardian; we await the definitive proposals from the Environmental Alliance. Their proposal arises from a recent report from a large group of distinguished environmental lawyers. The main aim is to provide a secure basis for a National Environmental Protection Authority, rather like the USEPA but secure against Trump-like demolition. With political games on environment, climate and health policy in Australia for 20 years, a secure Authority is seen as vital. I suggest all members read the long list of recommendations from APEEL.

Vicdoc: Protecting Victoria's forests is good for our health

Victoria’s forests are simply extraordinary. They support our health in a variety of ways and there is currently a community call for a new Great Forest National Park in our Central Highlands. Despite this, state government owned Vicforests continues industrial clear fell logging. In addition to the push from environmentalists and scientists there is a strong argument for the protection of our remaining forests on health grounds.

Croakey; Land clearing: a health threat requiring action and leadership – in the NT, and elsewhere

The diversity and complexity of the health issues that we face, whether as journalists or public health advocates or policymakers, can be overwhelming. In dealing with a constant avalanche of health-related news, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Park Watch: Nature’s Medicine

The Victorian Government released a strategy for protecting Victoria’s biodiversity in April 2017. This article is the third in a series in Park Watch (see the June and September 2017 editions) that addresses the strategy and why it matters.

Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 is the first formal statewide long-term biodiversity plan in two decades, and it contains a range of priorities and initiatives. Chapter Four, ‘A healthy environment for healthy Victorians’ explores why spending time connecting with nature is good for our health as individuals and as a society.

he Victorian Government’s Victorian Memorandum for Health and Nature is also a significant step in recognising that looking after nature also means looking after the health of people and their communities.

On Line Opinion: We must avoid the final cut

My guess is most Australians aren’t aware that an area of forest and bushland the size of the MCG is currently bulldozed in Queensland every three minutes, mainly for livestock grazing. Data released this year reveals that over 1 million hectares have been cleared over the last three years, making Eastern Australia a global deforestation hot-spot alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. Inexcusably, we are the only advanced economy still engaged in broad-scale land clearing.

Doctors disappointed by government’s decision to cut back marine sanctuaries

In 2012, Australia made history by creating the world’s largest network of marine sanctuaries. This was the result of decades of scientific research, work by all sides of politics, and overwhelming community support. Science shows that sanctuaries protect marine life, help reefs to recover from coral bleaching, and ensure we have fish for the future.

The Reef – a love story

DEA was pleased to contribute to a book by the Australian Marine Conservation Society outlining the value of the Great Barrier Reef. It is called ‘The Reef- a love story’ and was presented to the Minister for the Environment & Energy, Josh Frydenberg and also shared widely at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland. Josh was reportedly deeply appreciative of the book. You can download the book from this link to a drop box folder (to view it as a book you need to open the downloaded file in Adobe Acrobat and view in a 2 page format).

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It may be merely symbolic but, for me, our surgery garden is an extension of what we do as doctors. We all know that the major determinants of health sit outside consulting rooms and hospitals so here’s the story of our very own green space.

Open Forum: Nature as medicine

Anyone who studies medicine or has a career in medicine knows that if you allow it, it can consume your life.

Submission on Protecting the Yarra River (Birrarung)

As medical doctors we welcome this opportunity to contribute to the community discussion about opportunities to improve the oversight and management of the Yarra River. We rely on natural ecosystems for clean air and water; healthy fertile soils in which to grow our food; a stable climate in which to thrive and a rich tapestry of living organisms- biodiversity- from which we have taken food and developed over half of the medicines in use today.

The Medical Republic: Encouraging healthy eating helps more than just our patients

There is much discussion in the medical and general media about the healthiness of food. Hardly surprising, as we face an unfolding epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases which, along with inactivity, are in large part related to our dietary excess.

Submission to Victoria State Government on Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036

Our health is absolutely dependent on our natural environment. We rely on natural ecosystems for clean air and water, healthy, fertile soils in which to grow our food, a stable climate in which to thrive and a rich tapestry of living organisms- biodiversity- from which we have taken food and over half of the medicines in use today. Currently we are facing urgent threats to our wellbeing from climate change and biodiversity loss. As medical doctors we welcome this opportunity to provide input to the Victorian government’s review of biodiversity protection – a plan that is desperately needed to address the appalling rate of species extinction in our state.

Croakey Blog: Calling for a health impact assessment on Perth’s Roe 8 road project

Local media reported today that drilling had begun in the Beeliar wetlands in Perth’s south for the construction of the controversial Roe 8 highway extension, planned as the first stage of the Western Australian Government’s $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link.

Fin-Fish aquaculture industry in Tasmania submission

We recognise the importance of the fin-fish aquaculture industry to the state of Tasmania however if the industry is to continue to grow it must ensure that the health of Tasmania’s waterways and human health are not compromised.

Biodiversity Policy

Natural ecosystems support our health by filtering our air, providing fresh water and food, regulating our climate, directly improving human health and protecting against the spread of disease and pests. They also foster our mental wellbeing and serve as places of recreation and sources of nature-based jobs in tourism and other vocations.

Ditch the screen for the green

Many of these problems are the consequence of a sedentary lifestyle with kids today spending much of their time in a box, looking at another box.

Biodiversity Position Statement

Doctors for the Environment Australia is focussed on the complex interaction between human health and our natural environment and is therefore interested in environmental degradation, particularly the loss of biodiversity and the effect this is having, and will continue to have, on human health and social stability.

Submission on the High Conservation Values Assessment and Management Plan

As a body of medical professionals, DEA is an interested stakeholder due to our interest and expertise on the intersection of health, environmental threats and damage to natural ecosystems such as High Conservation Value (HCV) Forests.

Submissions to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill

Almost a quarter of the disease burden and deaths in the world can be attributed to environmental factors. We cannot begin to alleviate this burden of ill-health unless we address the environmental pathways and antecedent causes.

Submission to the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Component Strategic Assessment

The Great Barrier Reef is of “natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and is of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity” (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO).

DEA member Dr Marion Carey in the Crikey Health Blog

The following excerpt by Marion Carey appeared in a Crikey article and appears here under a Creative Commons licence.

Shell breaks its 10 year promise not to develop World Heritage Sites

The evidence of damage to the Great Barrier Reef continues to mount. This article by Andrew Jeremijenko provides further documentation. DEA has worked behind the scenes on this issue, corresponding with UNESCO on the impacts of coal mining on the catchments and the reef and by writing to Minister Burke.

We must protect biodiversity if we are to protect ourselves

It is encouraging to see that the European Commission has many policies and actions on biodiversity and this editorial from “Science for Environment Policy” is republished with thanks.

Submission to the West Australian Draft Forest Management Plan 2014-2023

The draft management plan should be acknowledged for recognising and including some of the important factors that will determine the health and sustainability of our SW forest ecosystems over coming decades.

How contact with nature can benefit our health.

Instinctively, we want contact with nature – we’d all like the office with a view of the park instead of a view of the carpark. Yet few doctors are aware of the health benefits associated with regular contact with nature and this is despite an ever expanding evidence base. I hope this article will inspire you to bring nature into your practice and the prescription of a ‘green hour’ into your management plan for the wellbeing of not only your patients and your staff but for you too.

The Great Barrier Reef at a crossroads- UNESCO Report

His article is a rational appraisal of the UNESCO report based on legal opinion and not on political blame which has obscured the realities of recent events. The final paragraph of the article summarises the abject folly of the developments which threaten survival of the reef.

Mining is digging the heart out of conservation covenants

This is an issue of great concern to DEA; it is perhaps the reflection of the immaturity of a society when the right to mine overrides some of the fundamentals for human health. Human dependence on biodiversity is built into our submissions to governments. In the article on Covenants the Bimblebox Nature Refuge is mentioned. In its submission on the EIS for Mr Palmer’s Waratah Coal’s proposed Galilee Coal Project, we said “this loss (of the refuge) would be of remnant native vegetation used for minimal impact sustainable grazing and the biodiversity that has adapted to this system, a unique experiment that has brought sustainable co-existence between grazing and conservation recognised in surveys of the biodiversity and government support under the Federal National Reserve System program”. Mr Palmer has said “Under that grading you’re allowed to mine it, build on it, build houses on it, do anything on it”.

Minister Burke- don’t mine the Tarkine!

Last month DEA’s Dr Dimity Williams- a Melbourne GP and passionate tree lover- went deep into the Tarkine with the crew from GetUp to help raise awareness on the threat to the Tarkine posed by mining see link : http://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/save-our-forests/tony-burke/dont-mine-the-tarkine

Tarkine Wilderness another victim of the Mining Boom

For eight years conservationists have fought to have the Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania included on the National Heritage List. Yet despite its eligibility it is under threat from large mining projects and a federal government reluctant to give responsibility for its listing to an independent arbiter.

Forests and Health Position Statement

Over 50 per cent of the earth’s forests have been cleared, mainly for grazing land expansion, agriculture and road construction.

It’s time to Getup! and save the Tarkine

A few weeks ago I was thrilled to be part of an expedition into the Tarkine rainforest of Tasmania organised by Getup! as part of their campaign to protect this great wilderness area. Getup! had selected a diverse group of participants from their large membership based on responses to a passionate call to action for the Tarkine.

The Tarkine Forest under threat – Again

This article on the Tarkine Forest and related issues formed the basis of a March newsletter to all members of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Submission on the Regulated Trees Amendment

In SA an amendment on Regulated Trees to help development has lead to a spate of removals of mature trees by residents in Adelaide and suburbs who worry about leaves in their gutters.

Biodiversity and Health

Doctors for the Environment Australia has recognised the importance of this topic for an number of years and in 2007 our poster was entitled – The importance of biodiversity to your life and health

Wildlife, biodiversity, climate change, population and economic growth

We need more politicians who will talk at public meetings about the damage to ecology–our life support systems. This is exactly what Kelvin Thomson MP is doing in his talk “The impact of population growth on wildlife” which is published below. In publishing this, with his permission, I make the point that we will publish articles from members of other parties if they fit within our policy framework.

Biodiversity, a fundamental for Human Health – an update

Three years ago DEA produced a poster on Biodiversity – the Web of Life. It asked “Will the next generation inhabit a healthy earth?” The poster was very popular especially with schools.

Seeds of Concern- -the Genetic Manipulation of Plants

Seeds of Concern: The Genetic Manipulation of Plants – Part One – 11/04/2004 by Dr David Murray



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