Native wildlife, habitats and the Great Barrier Reef will be winners from stronger land clearing laws

MEDIA RELEASE:  March 8, 2018:  

Peak group the Queensland Conservation Council has strongly welcomed the introduction today of a Bill into State Parliament to strengthen Queensland’s land clearing laws.

Land clearing rates have escalated dramatically since laws and processes were weakened by the Newman LNP Government in 2012-13.  As a result, 400,000 hectares of native woodlands were cleared in the last reported year, 40% of which was in Great Barrier Reef catchments, and tens of millions of native animals were killed or displaced.

During the 2017 Queensland election, Labor committed to:

  • Restoring stronger land clearing laws to protect old growth and high conservation value regrowing 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 Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 introduced today foreshadows the scrapping of so-called high value agriculture permits, scrapping the thinning code, amendments to other self-assessable codes, and the protection of high conservation value regrowth vegetation.

“Today is an important milestone in resetting land clearing laws and policies in Queensland”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.

“Today, the Palaszczuk government is drawing a line on a brief but shameful period in our recent history where our laws allowed massive areas of native woodlands and forests to be destroyed.

“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.

“Right now, we have a massive land clearing crisis on our hands. We simply can’t keep bulldozing our native woodlands. That’s not a pathway to a healthy, sustainable future.

“Today, the State government is moving to address this crisis, and commence the process to bring our clearing rates back down.  We commend the government in acting.

“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.

“We will now need to study the Bill in detail, and ensure it delivers the strongest possible protections and meets the policy objectives of ceasing remnant clearing and the destruction of ecologically-important regenerating woodlands.”

For further comment contact:   

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

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