MEDIA RELEASE for immediate release: 7 March 2017
The release of the latest national ‘State of the Environment’ Report today shows that our environment is in poor shape with failing health especially in Queensland, according to the Queensland Conservation Council.
Despite concerns about using inaccurate data and downplaying by the Minister in opinion pieces today, the new report indicates the ongoing loss of biodiversity and additions to threatened species lists, the ongoing scale and impacts of land clearing in Queensland, and the damage to natural icons such as the Great Barrier Reef.
The peak state environment group argues this is why Queensland needs much stronger nature protection laws, significant growth in the national park estate, and decisive national and state action on climate change and renewable energy.
“The national State of the Environment report should be formally renamed the Parlous State of the Environment, and it’s poor and failing health referred for emergency treatment as well as long term recovery”, said head of the Queensland Conservation Council, Dr Tim Seelig.
“Queensland once again comes up as the land clearing capital of Australia, and despite using questionable Federal data rather than the better Queensland numbers, the scale of the problem is obvious.
“The report states ‘the level of tree clearing in Queensland is greater than the combined total for all other states and territories’. And it highlights that the main cause of clearing is for grazing, although urban expansion is also rightly acknowledged.
“The report also emphasises that ‘relaxation of tree-clearing legislation was responsible for a significant increase in clearing rates of both remnant and non-remnant vegetation in Queensland… in particular, in Queensland’s reef catchments’.
“These were changes made by the Newman LNP government in 2012 and 2014. The question for Federal Environment Minister Frydenberg is what’s he doing about this?
“Why is he not urging his Queensland LNP counterparts to drop their opposition to putting a lid on escalating clearing rates brought about by their legal and enforcement changes? Why is he not using all his national environment powers to intervene and cancel clearing permits allowed under the LNP’s changes?
“Canberra also needs to wake up to the reality of the impacts of climate change. The decline and possible death of the Great Barrier Reef within our lifetime is a very real risk. Rather than tossing around lumps of coal in Parliament, the Federal government must embrace zero carbon-emissions energy sources and seriously reduce our national greenhouse pollution.
“At the same time, we need to see a new program of rapid expansion of the national park estate across the country, and especially in Queensland. Giving nature the best chances to adapt to already-locked-in climate change, and also creating true protected areas, that are permanently secured from damaging threats such as mining and grazing, needs to be a high priority.
“Australia’s national parks are the backbone of protecting our precious biodiversity and allowing for threatened species recovery, and we need more of them.”
For further information or comment contact:
Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183