Taking on land clearing in the NT

What are savannah woodlands and why do they need protection from bulldozers and big cotton?

In February 2023, EJA lawyers launched an important court case representing the Environment Centre of the Northern Territory to protect the world’s largest remaining tropical woodland savanna against big cotton’s bulldozers.

The good news: the proponent, Clean Agriculture and International Tourism, has since backed down on its plans to bulldoze almost 1000 hectares of vital savanna at Auvergne Station to grow water guzzling cotton crops.

It’s a bizarre turn of events: faced with looming litigation, the corporation applied to have its own permit revoked. As a result, we’ve discontinued our client’s litigation.

The bad news: the Northern Territory government has instead earmarked 100 times that amount for destruction, a whopping 100,000 hectares of savanna bulldozed and burned for crops and cotton.

It’s part of the NT government’s attempts to re-write the rules to favour big cotton corporations – right as ECNT and the Northern Land Council have sought to use the existing laws to protect precious woodland savanna at Auvergne.

Why we need to protect tropical savannah

Australia’s tropical savanna woodlands blanket more than a million square kilometres across the northern half of this continent – and account for 20 per cent of the entire world’s savanna.

They’re a vitally important ecosystem, home to extraordinary animals found nowhere else in the world and sacred country for First Nations people.

But now, they’re one of Australia’s most vulnerable ecosystems. The bulldozers are moving in.

Land clearing for cotton and agriculture is skyrocketing across the Northern Territory – much of it without proper oversight or scrutiny. In four years, land approved for clearing has surged by around 300%.

While one battle to protect savanna woodlands at Auvergne might be over, the next one is looming as the Northern Territory government moves to prioritise the profit of multinational corporations.

What's next?

The Northern Territory’s nature laws are broken. We urgently need reform to nature laws in the Northern Territory. 

We’re keeping a close eye on land clearing permits in the NT, investigating illegal land clearing, and watching for developments in the NT government’s plans.

It’s diligent, difficult work – but we never back down from a challenge. Will you consider making a donation so we can continue to be a voice for our precious savanna woodlands?

What was once the least damaged and polluted savanna in the world is now one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on this continent.

Our governments should be doing all they can to protect our ecosystems, the animals that live in them, and sacred First Nations land – not handing multinational corporations the keys to the bulldozers.

Our legal work

Catch up on the Auvergne Station case and learn more about our work to protect this vital ecosystem.

We’re also representing the Environment Centre Northern Territory in their work seeking immediate intervention to halt work at Lee Point after the discovery of large numbers of Gouldian Finches in the area.