Land clearing expert panel report - rapid response needed
On Thursday 12th October, the long awaited Native Vegetation Scientific Expert Panel report was released by the Queensland government. The report put forward 10 recommendations to address the high land clearing rates from 2018 - 2019.
Alongside the report, the Queensland government released a response to the recommendations of which they support or support in principle. The recommendations consist of maintaining regulatory stability, improving landholder education and engagement, enhancing environmental stewardship and incentives, and better reporting on clearing figures.
Natalie Frost from Queensland Conservation Council said it was good to finally see the report but insisted that since 2019 over 760,000 hectares of land had been impacted by deforestation and land clearing in Queensland. “Queensland is a global deforestation hotspot. Queensland’s iconic forests and the threatened species found there are at threat each year from out of control land clearing. We need stronger laws and enhanced incentives to protect these forests for future generations.
“This report outlines important steps that must occur to address out of control land clearing and habitat loss. For some of the recommendations such as additional enforcement capacity, the government has already acted, but in others, progress is still distressingly slow.
“Queensland’s iconic forests are at threat each year from broadscale land clearing. The response by the Queensland government to the recommendations put forward by the expert panel are welcomed. However, we are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis and urgent actions including regulatory change are needed to accelerate an increase in ecosystem function and services.
“The report found a staggering 64,000ha, 9.4%, of the total clearing was ‘unexplained’, possibly illegal. We welcome the focus on compliance and monitoring outlined in the report but know that each year the majority of clearing is in unregulated vegetation which still provides enormous values for wildlife and ecosystem services.
“We welcome the increase in incentives and support for landholders who are managing their land for wildlife and carbon.”
“Land clearing for pasture is 9x all other clearing put together. While development, mining, and infrastructure are all having an impact on Queensland forests, the impact is minor compared to the impact that beef and sheep industry has as the continued overwhelming cause of deforestation.
“We welcome the recommendation of increased transparency in vegetation loss (recommendation 5). Currently, the only publicly available data on land clearing is 2 years old so it is impossible to see the impacts of policy changes in real time and since the expert panel was convened, we don’t know how much forest and woodland has been lost”
You can view the Native Vegetation Scientific Expert Panel Report here.