‘State of the environment’ is poor and failing Government Report shows, with Queensland land clearing still a big problem

MEDIA RELEASE for immediate release: 7 March 2017

The release of the latest national ‘State of the Environment’ Report today shows that our environment is in poor shape with failing health especially in Queensland, according to the Queensland Conservation Council.

Despite concerns about using inaccurate data and downplaying by the Minister in opinion pieces today, the new report indicates the ongoing loss of biodiversity and additions to threatened species lists, the ongoing scale and impacts of land clearing in Queensland, and the damage to natural icons such as the Great Barrier Reef. 

The peak state environment group argues this is why Queensland needs much stronger nature protection laws, significant growth in the national park estate, and decisive national and state action on climate change and renewable energy.

“The national State of the Environment report should be formally renamed the Parlous State of the Environment, and it’s poor and failing health referred for emergency treatment as well as long term recovery”, said head of the Queensland Conservation Council, Dr Tim Seelig.

“Queensland once again comes up as the land clearing capital of Australia, and despite using questionable Federal data rather than the better Queensland numbers, the scale of the problem is obvious.

“The report states ‘the level of tree clearing in Queensland is greater than the combined total for all other states and territories’. And it highlights that the main cause of clearing is for grazing, although urban expansion is also rightly acknowledged.

“The report also emphasises that ‘relaxation of tree-clearing legislation was responsible for a significant increase in clearing rates of both remnant and non-remnant vegetation in Queensland… in particular, in Queensland’s reef catchments’.

“These were changes made by the Newman LNP government in 2012 and 2014. The question for Federal Environment Minister Frydenberg is what’s he doing about this?

“Why is he not urging his Queensland LNP counterparts to drop their opposition to putting a lid on escalating clearing rates brought about by their legal and enforcement changes?  Why is he not using all his national environment powers to intervene and cancel clearing permits allowed under the LNP’s changes?

“Canberra also needs to wake up to the reality of the impacts of climate change.  The decline and possible death of the Great Barrier Reef within our lifetime is a very real risk.  Rather than tossing around lumps of coal in Parliament, the Federal government must embrace zero carbon-emissions energy sources and seriously reduce our national greenhouse pollution.

“At the same time, we need to see a new program of rapid expansion of the national park estate across the country, and especially in Queensland. Giving nature the best chances to adapt to already-locked-in climate change, and also creating true protected areas, that are permanently secured from damaging threats such as mining and grazing, needs to be a high priority. 

“Australia’s national parks are the backbone of protecting our precious biodiversity and allowing for threatened species recovery, and we need more of them.”


For further information or comment contact:

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

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  • ted fensom
    commented 2017-04-15 12:31:23 +1000
    The SOE summary in Hansard was a relief to find but to find the SOE digital parts in the maze in portals is extremely challenging without a map or guide. There is no substitute for the hard copies previously produced by BCC , State and Federal Governments. This data search quest also applies to the Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) for Parks and Reserves where some Agreements, Managements Plans, National Reserve System obligations (which includes the 75% rule for primary use ) and some data bases have gone missing. It is difficult to comment without data and half the staff of 1998 .
    The calibration of the rollback of Vegetation Management Act and high clearing rates mentioned above at least has some documentation by SLATS. However there is some abysmal treatment of other regrowth vegetation by DNR with PMAVs , whitespace and untrammelled clearing. The SOE indicates it has little monitoring of the bio condition of Regional Ecosystems of Qld.

    There is no SOE for South East Qld . Examination of the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan leaves the intact Rural Areas at the mercy of some aspects of Regional Biodiversity Values which have only 5 attributes largely without head of powers, protection ,mapping ,funding or monitoring. This just puts Biodiversity Hotspot areas outside the Urban Footprint up as targets for the next Spot Rezoning , next Port ,next megadevelopment , next Priority Development Area and next Tourist Development like the Logan River.

    Biodiversity (previously a Desired Regional Outcome 2009-2017)is not a Measure that Matters in Table23. of the SEQRP . Greater Sunshine Coast constitutes a Biodiversity Hotspot with numerical attributes near the Wet Tropics. That SEQ is part of the McPherson Macleay Overlap and part of the world 35th Biodiversity Hotspot , hasWorld Heritage and a Biosphere Reserve triggers alarm bells . Retrieval of other unreferenced CSIRO, RFA and Museum biodiversity values is a start of an urgent campaign to get beyond useless and wishy washy ,unfunded Biodiversity Strategies at 3 levels of Government.

    Ted Fensom BREC