New figures reveal scarcity of site visits to check on over 1m hectares of land clearing in Queensland

With more than 340,000 hectares of bushland cleared each year, Queensland continues to push threatened species to the brink of extinction. Only 21 field visits were carried out in 2022-2023, demonstrating that the Palaszczuk Government is leaving broadscale clearing unchecked. With the majority of clearing taking place in 'unregulated' lands known as Category X, it can now be revealed that there are remnant ecosystems, home to koalas and endangered reptiles within these areas that are not being protected. 

The figures were revealed through a Question on Notice asked by Greens MP Michael Berkman. The answer revealed that in the last three financial years the Department of Resources undertook only 58 site visits, despite more than 1 million hectares being cleared. 

The Department of Resources has not been adequately dealing with complaints filed by the public, even when the complaints involved the clearing of the Endangered Koala and Vulnerable Yellow Bellied Glider habitat. Hayley Troupe, a Blackbutt resident said:

"I notified the department about concerns of possible clearing one month before the clearing started, the department said there wasn't much they could do until clearing started. I also contacted them on the day the bulldozer turned up with a formal complaint about the clearing. I heard nothing for 2 weeks and no sign of anyone from the department investigating the ongoing clearing in person. 

"The department did not act quick enough and it became my responsibility to update and provide photos of the clearing. Every day I woke up to the sound of bulldozers for over 6 weeks, and with dozens of phone calls, emails and photos sent to the department, still nothing was done to stop it. The land owner cleared all they wanted. This was Koala and Yellow Bellied Glider habitat as I have seen them frequently over the past few years, I haven't seen a glider since the clearing."

The site inspection data comes after the recently released Native Vegetation Scientific Expert Panel report put forward 10 recommendations to address the high land clearing rates from 2018 - 2019 which included increased enforcement, landholder education and engagement but no regulatory changes. 

Natalie Frost from Queensland Conservation Council said 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 64,000 hectares, 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. Enough is enough, it is clear that the Palaszczuk government is not doing enough to protect Queensland’s natural assets and threatened species like the Koala are paying the ultimate price.

"We have been informed of multiple incidences where old growth Brigalow forest and other remnant ecosystems are mapped as Category X, meaning that clearing can go ahead ‘unchecked’ regardless of the wildlife and potential threatened species that reside in these areas."

"The Albanese government has committed to no new extinctions, if this is to be realised then Queensland needs to step up and actually protect habitats needed to sustain and regenerate threatened species populations"


Before and after - Koala and Yellow Bellied Glider habitat