Taking the axe to Queensland’s tree clearing laws not such a bright idea

vegetation clearing

The Newman government is proposing amendments to the Vegetation Management Framework that would reduce protection of our native vegetation and allow the clearing of an estimated 700,000 hectares of Queensland’s endangered and ecologically significant forests and woodlands.

“The proposed Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill causes us to have serious concerns about the future of Queensland’s terrestrial biodiversity and the future health of the Great Barrier Reef. If passed, this Bill would represent the biggest wind-back of environmental protection laws in Queensland’s history” said Anna McGuire, Coordinator of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre.

“Many of the amendments are not in the long term interests of Queensland communities and are in direct conflict with the purpose of the Vegetation Management Act, which is to make land use more sustainable by preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecological processes.”

“These amendments effectively prioritise economic interests over ecological concerns. This Bill should be rejected for the sake of maintaining our soil and waterway health, protecting biodiversity, and safeguarding the future prosperity of our regional and rural communities.”

“Protecting vegetation is critical for maintaining the fundamental ecosystem services that our regional, rural and urban communities rely on. Maintaining native vegetation cover is a fundamental aspect of ensuring ongoing prosperity for the agricultural sector. Vegetation protects topsoil and maintains healthy waterways, and is necessary for sustainable agricultural production in the long term.”

“Minister Cripps describes these proposed changes as ‘practical reforms’ that will ‘pave the way for sustainable development of new agricultural areas’, but these proposed changes would lead to loss of biodiversity, degradation of water quality, loss of topsoil and decreased soil health.”

“These amendments would lead to further fragmentation of an already fragmented landscape, resulting in species declines and loss of ecosystem function. The effects of clearing and fragmentation of native vegetation are well researched and absolutely clear – any clearing within these fragments will have significant long term negative impacts on biodiversity values and on species’ survival.”

“These changes would result in degradation of waterways, including Wild Rivers, with lasting impacts on the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Large-scale vegetation clearing increases the amount of sediment and nutrient runoff flowing out in to the reef lagoon, placing further stress on the reef.”

“We also have concerns regarding policing and enforcement of vegetation clearing under the revised framework. Removal of the capacity for judicial review and placing decision making entirely in the hands of the Chief Executive, removes a fundamental democratic check and allows for politically appointed Chief Executives to make unsound and unreviewable decisions that reflect political ideology, rather than being in the best interests of land stewardship.
Contact – Anna McGuire P: 4032 1746 E: coord@cafnec.org.au

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