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