MEDIA RELEASE: 19 January 2016
Peak environment group the Queensland Conservation Council is urging the Palaszczuk government to get on with the job of re-strengthening Queensland’s land clearing laws as an urgent priority.
During the recent Queensland election, Labor made a major land clearing policy announcement, committing to restore stronger land clearing laws, establish a $500M Land Restoration Fund, and to put conservation science and accountability back at the heart of the regulatory system.
The commitments on land clearing law reform included driving down tree clearing rates, legislating to end broadscale clearing of remnant (older, established) vegetation, and protecting high conservation value regrowing woodlands. The Land Restoration Fund will ensure areas are restored for biodiversity and carbon outcomes, and is designed to be a complementary incentive for retaining woodlands.
The Queensland Conservation Council has also admonished AgForce Queensland for continuing to attack sensible environmental law reform and for suggesting its members seek to circumvent incoming protections.
“Queensland has a land clearing crisis, but we now have a government with the mandate, the numbers and the political imperative to address it. Our message to Premier Palaszczuk and her majority administration is to get on with the job, effectively and expeditiously”, said Dr Tim Seelig who heads up the Queensland Conservation Council.
“Nearly 400,000 hectares of land was cleared in Queensland in the last year for which we have data; a rise of 33% statewide and almost a 50% increase in Great Barrier Reef areas. This also released 46 million tonnes of carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere
“We need swift and strong action to rein in clearing rates in Queensland, to stop the further mass destruction of wildlife and habitats, reduce threats to Reef water quality and reduce carbon emissions.
“Ending broadscale clearing of remnant woodlands, including so-called thinning as well as spurious high value agriculture permits, will make an important difference to wildlife and woodland protection.
“Bringing legal protections back to other ecologically significant woodlands, where habitats have been restored in regenerating areas, is also essential.
“These are the commitments that Labor made during the election, and they are largely the same protections that were in place before the LNP trashed Queensland’s land clearing laws.
“Those pre-2012 laws didn’t go far enough, but they did substantially reduce clearing rates and they also had no impact on farm productivity or agricultural output.
“The lines from AgForce about stronger land clearing laws being bad for farming are just plain wrong, and are part of the ongoing scaremongering effort amongst the small pro-land clearing cheer squad that AgForce and the Old Guard of the LNP represent. AgForce is being irresponsible in urging members to attempt to sidestep regulation.
“The Palaszczuk government should ignore the bullshit, get cracking with its law reform work, make sure it is comprehensive and effective, and is not undermined by AgForce and its devious tactics.”
For further comment contact:
Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183