MEDIA RELEASE: November 4, 2017: Labor lands a clear way forward to protecting wildlife and habitats
Peak environment group the Queensland Conservation Council has strongly welcomed the announcement by the Premier, Deputy Premier and Environment Minister that Labor is committed to strengthening Queensland’s land clearing laws.
Queensland Labor’s major land clearing policy announcement commits to:
- Restoring stronger land clearing laws to protect native woodlands and wildlife.
- Reducing land clearing in Great Barrier Reef catchments and other sensitive areas.
- Restraining unsustainable agricultural expansion requiring largescale land clearing.
- $500M program to ensure land is restored as a carbon sink not a major source of emissions.
- Putting conservation science and accountability back at the heart of the regulatory system.
The policy document ‘Saving Habitat, Protecting Wildlife and Restoring Land: Ending broadscale tree clearing in Queensland (again)’ released today outlines a series of measures to protect old growth (remnant) and other high conservation value woodlands and forests, and the wildlife that lives in or near them.
The policy also proposes a massive $500 million ‘Land Restoration Fund’ to support land carbon projects which will also provide biodiversity and other environmental and economic co-benefits.
“This impressive, comprehensive policy announcement from Labor about protecting Queensland’s wildlife and habitats from the scourge of land clearing is essential; it’s what nature needs”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.
“Land clearing is catastrophic for our vulnerable wildlife and their woodland homes, bad for the Great Barrier Reef because of the sediment run-off it causes, and bad for climate change.
“Recent land clearing figures show a disastrous increase in land clearing rates in Queensland, including in Great Barrier Reef catchments, resulting in tens of millions of native animals being killed every year and countless habitats destroyed.
“We have a massive land clearing crisis on our hands. 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 GBR areas. This also released 46 million tonnes of carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere.
“We have been highlighting the rising scale and impacts of destructive land clearing for years, and have been seeking strong action and commitments from our political parties.
“Labor is now flagging it will deliver on land clearing. Its proposed program of legislative protections, reliance on science, and also creating huge incentives for landholders to stop clearing and instead protect our native woodlands is comprehensive, ambitious and indeed historic.
“Queensland already has the best land use monitoring system in Australia, and used to have the most effective land clearing laws, until they were substantially weakened by the Newman Government.
“This policy will restore and improve on our past legislative approach, and it also positions Queensland as the nation’s leading carbon farming state, by scale and through linking carbon and biodiversity outcomes.
“We simply can’t keep bulldozing our native woodlands. That’s not a pathway to a healthy, sustainable future.
“Instead, we have been advocating that ‘protecting Queensland’s future should come naturally, and that our nature is our future’. Today’s commitment shows that we can make this happen.
“Strengthening land clearing laws in the past has not caused a downturn in agricultural productivity. Despite scare campaigns and misinformation from farming lobby groups, stronger laws, land restoration and carbon farming will be good for both the economy and environment.
“There’s more to do to fully protect our natural places and native wildlife. Koalas and other animals caught up in urban development still need specific policy responses. And we need to see strong commitments on broader environmental and climate policy.
“But Labor’s policy for protecting wildlife and habitats through major land clearing reform and land restoration investment clearly sets Queensland on the right path, and is strongly welcomed.
“What we need to see now is matching commitments from the LNP, Greens and One Nation. We look forward to seeing what they have to say on the priority issue of land clearing.”
For further comment contact:
Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183