Clearing rainforest habitat for dog shelter totally unacceptable

MEDIA RELEASE for 22-23 March 2017

Peak state environment group the Queensland Conservation Council has slammed what its understands to be a proposal from Douglas Shire Council in Far North Queensland to acquire and clear intact tropical rainforest for an animal shelter.

The Council has apparently approached the State government about land just outside Port Douglas, where it intends to have an animal shelter ‘Paws and Claws’ constructed.  The land proposed to date comprises tropical rainforest not far from the Wet Tropics World Heritage area, and is adjacent to essential habitat for the endangered cassowary.

Queensland Conservation Council understands the Council has already been forced to amend its plans once, which originally involved destruction of the cassowary habitat, but the proposal continues to involve the bulldozing of rainforest habitat. The Minister for Natural Resources has seemingly yet to formally refuse the proposal, raising concerns it could still go ahead. 

This case also highlights the ongoing problem of land clearing in Queensland – both broadscale agricultural clearing and smaller scale urban development and other clearing – which continues to spiral out of control.  In recent years, 300,000 hectares of land has been cleared in the state each year, more than all other parts of Australia combined.

“Clearing rainforest habitat for a dog and cat shelter is totally unacceptable,” said head of the Queensland Conservation Council, Dr Tim Seelig.

“This is an appalling proposal, which should be thrown in the bin straight away.

“There simply must be better places for this unit than in a rainforest, next to where the endangered cassowary lives and not far from an iconic World Heritage area.

“Approving this development would set a dreadful precedent for clearing land, when the state’s wildlife and critical habitats are being smashed from large and smaller scale clearing, and the impacts of a thousand exemptions and blind eyes.

We need stronger laws to protect our wildlife and critical habitats.  Whether it’s the cassowary in Far North Queensland, the koala in South East Queensland, or the Black Throated Finch in Central Queensland, our native animals are being driven to extinction through destruction of habitat and breeding places.

“We need to put wildlife first for once.  Finding somewhere else for the animal shelter in Douglas Shire is a great place to set a new standard of caring for native animals. 

“We call on the Council to make rethink its plans, and we call on the Minister for Natural Resources to make a stand and protect our woodlands and rainforests.”

Photos of the land that has been proposed for the shelter are attached.

For further information or comment contact:

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

Showing 6 reactions

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  • Heather Walton
    commented 2017-03-23 15:40:35 +1000
    There had been a lot of research into this location for the animal shelter and our green council – yes, one of the more progressive and ecologically minded councils, has deemed this a suitable location. I can tell you now that most of the residents here would be up in arms if this were a sensitive area. Besides, getting stray dogs into a shelter is protecting the area. For a conservation council you don’t seem very informed on this.
  • Tim Seelig
    commented 2017-03-23 10:03:50 +1000
    Thanks for the comments. Just for the record, the area that has been proposed for this shelter did include formally mapped essential cassowary habitat. That people have not spotted them there for some time may some say something about their status. Council recognised this themselves and apparently suggested moving the site to be right next to instead of on top of mapped essential cassowary habitat. Council is now apparently claiming that the site will be moved again down off the slope and onto the falter ex-cane farm grassy area closer to the road. We have not seen any formal evidence of this. If it is provided, this would be the basis of further analysis and consideration of the merits of the shelter, which we don’t oppose in principle – just the place it’s being proposed for.
  • Astrid Van Peelen
    commented 2017-03-22 21:46:15 +1000
    Absolute rubbish! No rainforest is proposed to be cleared for this shelter and no cassowaries live there. The shire needs a shelter to prevent the dumping of cats and dogs in the actual national park and potentially causing harm to cassowaries. This project should not be given the green light immediately.
  • Trudy Helen Alberts
    commented 2017-03-22 21:00:13 +1000
    So Animals will be dumped and breed in forests instead of being in a shelter. No Credibility and very little fact in this article. For all the Conservation groups I say this. The Daintree has been used by Conservation groups for years to exort for donations with very little action . The Landowners and the Council foot the bill and the responsibitity for maintaining the integrity of the forest,
  • Derani Zealand
    commented 2017-03-22 20:51:53 +1000
    I completely agree about the problem of wanton clearing in Queensland but are you sure you’ve got your facts right here? The proposed site for the animal refuge is an old cleared paddock at the base of the hill that’s covered in trees. Pretty sure not one tree would be felled. I live just up the road from the site. It’s certainly not intact tropical rainforest as you so dramatically claim. In fact at one point it was going to be a caravan park. There are plenty of dingoes and wild pigs in this area. However Id really like to see your evidence showing it to be cassowary habitat. We live here and NEVER see cassowaries.
  • Lawrence Mason
    commented 2017-03-22 19:31:44 +1000
    What a load of shit. Never has been and never will be Cassowaries there. Completely removes any shred of credibility you may have had left. Reading this I thought it was the Shovel, or Betoota Advocate. But no it is The Qld Conservation Council. Yeeesh.