275,000 hectares cleared from Qld in last financial year
Six leading scientists from universities in Queensland document the history of environmental protections in the state. Land clearing has rapidly accelerated over the past few years.
‘… in 2012, a newly elected Liberal-National government rapidly set about watering down many aspects of environmental legislation. The Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Act 2013 brought back broadscale land clearing for agriculture, and the protections for high-value regrowth on freehold and indigenous land were removed.
‘Now, a minority Labor government has been elected, amidst promises to reinstate environmental protections. But a recent ministerial announcement appears to signal some backpedalling.’
‘In attempts to redress the damage done by past habitat loss, landholders across the country have been working for decades to replant trees and restore land. A national program seeks to plant 20 million trees over four years at a public cost of A$50 million. But this is dwarfed by the 50 million-plus trees lost to clearing in just one year, in one state – Queensland.
‘Weakening of habitat protections was rationalised by its proponents as achieving a better “balance”. But for most vegetation communities, the ecosystem services that they perform, and the threatened species they contain, the balance was tipped long ago. We’re in danger of “balancing” our rare ecosystems and species into extinction.’