New data shows impact of vegetation management laws

New data from the Federal Government has shown more carbon is being stored in Queensland forests, with the state’s bushland and forests now providing an effective carbon sink for the second year running. 

The new National Greenhouse Accounts, released today, show emissions from the land sector in Queensland have declined steadily over the past six years, in part due to a reduction in overall deforestation in the state resulting from changes to the state’s Vegetation Management Act.

Queensland’s land clearing rates have meant that clearing historically emitted more carbon than forests have absorbed, however this is now changed and the land use sector is finally acting as a carbon sink. The sum of all land sector carbon impact is a reduction in atmospheric carbon of 15.95m tonnes of carbon dioxide, with the majority of this coming from the return of forests onto cleared land. 

The Queensland Conservation Council - the state’s peak environment body - welcomed the figures, but indicated there must be bipartisan support for strong enforcement of the Queensland’s Vegetation Management Act, and better incentives to prevent clearing to ensure the state locks in its current trajectory and becomes a world leader in preservation of its native forests.

Queensland Conservation Council Nature Campaigner, Natalie Frost said:

“Queensland has some of the richest and most varied animal and plant life in the country, but historically we have been among the worst in the world at protecting it. 

“These figures give a good indication that the enforcement of our state land clearing laws are finally having their intended effect of bringing deforestation down from Queensland’s previous sky high-levels.

“Sadly, Queensland has a history of knee jerk policy reversals in the land clearing space, leading to panic clearing, confusion and rapid increases in deforestation.

We are calling on the LNP to publicly commit to retaining the Vegetation Management Act, and enforcement of action against illegal clearing,  to give koalas certainty they won’t be facing an army of bulldozers after the state election in October.

“We are also calling on both parties to identify more incentives for land holders to keep trees in the ground, including measures that properly reflect the value of native forests as carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots.

“Protecting our native forests can be a win for climate, koalas and land holders. If we keep the laws that are working and add in the right incentives for landholders to preserve the native forests on their property, Queensland can be a land carbon powerhouse.  

“While we are pleased to see the national data reflect a reduction in land clearing across the state, we cannot accurately assess deforestation rates without more accurate, up-to-date reporting from the State Government’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS).

“Good policy depends on the timely release of the best possible data, which is why we need the State Government to release the SLATS data as soon as possible.”



National Greenhouse Data available here:


Historic annual emissions from Queensland’s land use sector: