THE Palaszczuk government has fired the latest salvo in its long running farmer bashing campaign, saying a new report reveals the dangers to Queensland’s threatened species caused by land clearing.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said a new report painted a disturbing picture of how land clearing caused species death and habitat loss, and reduced the resilience of endangered animal and plant species to adapt to climate change.
“It (The scientific review of the impacts land clearing on threatened species in Queensland) shows that any further land clearing will put more threatened species at threat of extinction, impact on streams, rivers, wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef marine lagoon, and will contribute to climate change impacts,” Dr Miles said.
The Palaszczuk government still refuses to consult, compromise and commit to a bi-partisan and workable land use policy.
The 56 page Scientific review of the impacts of land clearing on threatened species in Queensland details three species which may – or may not - have been made extinct by land clearing.
- The paradise parrot, which has not been seen since 1927, but may have died out because of over grazing.
- Corchorus thozetii, a small shrub that had thought be have been extinct for more than 100 year. However, a single speciman was found near Duaringa in 1998 on country that was subsequently cleared and farmed.
- Calotis glabrescens, a small herb that was last collected west of Inglewood in 1944 on country that was subsequently farmed.
In keeping with the Palaszczuk government’s prevailing rhetoric, Dr Miles makes no reference to the impact of regrowth encroachment on pasture land or to vegetation thickening, which also leads to reduces reduced biodiversity.
The report was prepared by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s Species Technical Committee (STC). It was commissioned soon after draconian new laws proposed by the minority Palaszczuk were defeated in the Queensland parliament in August last year.
CLICK HERE to read why parliament rejected the Palaszczuk government’s controversial tree clearing laws.
Ironically the DEH report comes the same week the Department of Agriculture also released a new catalogue of Improved Practices Catalogue for grazing land. In that DAF report, A condition grazing lands are recognised as having “no sign, or only early signs of woodland thickening”. At the other end of the scale undesirable C condition grazing land has “thickening of weeds and woodlands”. The worst D condition grazing land as recognised as having “weeds and woodland thickets present”.
Farmer bashing is likely to be a key strategy of the Palaszczuk government heading into the next state election, strongly supported by extreme green Labor aligned groups including the Wilderness Society and the WWF. Inner-city members including Dr Miles and deputy premier Jackie Trad are desperate to secure the green vote while deflecting attention away from the proposed massive Adani coal project in Central Queensland.
Dr Miles said the Palaszczuk government remained committed to stopping broadscale tree clearing in Queensland and would take that position to the next election.
However, AgForce president Grant Maudsley said the Palaszczuk government refused to consult, compromise and commit to a bi-partisan and workable land use policy.
“Less than one tenth of one per cent of Queensland’s vegetation was cleared each year and about two-thirds of that figure was the management of regrowth,” Mr Maudsley said. “That’s the Government’s own figures and the same figures used in this report. A lot of the higher clearing rates in western Queensland in recent years have coincided with the worst drought in the state’s history with the figures including the harvesting of mulga to feed livestock.
“AgForce has always said we are willing to work through a balanced, scientific and evidence-based process, and that means looking at regrowth rates as well as clearing rates. Let’s look at all the facts, not just some of them.
“This latest report isn’t anything new. It’s more of the same – a report that only looks at clearing rates without looking at the rate of regrowth and thickening, and how that impacts on biodiversity, the rate of erosion and the spread of feral pests and weeds.
“We need a balanced approach that allows farmers to get on with the job of sustainably producing food and fibre, while at the same time delivering good outcomes for the environment.”
Opposition natural resources spokesman Andrew Cripps said the Palaszczuk government had no interest in developing balanced vegetation management laws as it was principal motivation was to appease extreme green groups.
“The Palaszczuk government has already been caught out, not just denying the contribution of regrowth and thickening, but fudging the figures in official government reports published by state departments,” Mr Cripps said.
“The deliberate fearmongering by green activist groups through the exaggeration of SLATS data is part of a wider conspiracy involving the Palaszczuk government and the systemic doctoring of reports made available to the public by state agencies.”
Queensland's Species Technical Committee chairperson Dr John Neldner, who is employed by the Queensland Herbarium, said the committee of scientists provided recommendations to the Government on the conservation status of threatened plant and animal species in Queensland.
“Land clearing has been directly responsible for two plant species becoming extinct in the wild, and has been identified as a threatening process for many of the 739 threatened flora species and 210 threatened fauna species in Queensland,” Dr Neldner said.