As scientists with expertise in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, we wish to express grave concerns about the future impacts of proposed changes to Queensland’s Vegetation Management Act and the Water Act.
They include allowing a new category of broadscale native vegetation clearing for some types of agriculture, and removing the protections which previously prevented clearing of mature regrowth of threatened plant communities, and of vegetation along many watercourses. These changes appear set to increase, not decrease, the rate of land clearing.
Land clearing is the greatest current threat to Australia’s biodiversity, and is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, degradation and reduced water quality in waterways and estuaries, and dryland salinity.
Queensland is the most biodiverse state in Australia, but has already seen too many species becoming extinct or threatened. Ongoing losses caused by vegetation clearing increase the chance that more species will disappear from particular regions or become globally extinct. And the effects of clearing now will continue to increase long into the future, because habitat loss that occurs now can lead to extinctions many years down the track.
Regrowth of threatened vegetation types must be allowed to mature to enable recovery and eventual removal from the threatened list. This regrowth is also important habitat for many species, and plays an important role in carbon uptake, soil protection, and the maintenance of water quality. There is significant public investment in planting trees to restore habitat, but these efforts are negated if native vegetation is simultaneously being cleared.
We understand the need for multiple uses of land, and for a balanced approach to land use conflicts. However, a continuing loss of native vegetation with no end point planned is neither balanced nor sustainable. We urge the government to consider the irreversible and pervasive environmental consequences of the proposed changes, and avoid reducing protection of our State’s native bushland.
|Dr Greg Baxter||Senior Lecturer||The University of Queensland|
|Associate Professor Yvonne Buckley||Associate Professor||The University of Queensland|
|Professor Carla P. Catterall||Professor||Griffith University|
|Dr Diana Fisher||ARC Future Fellow||The University of Queensland|
|Professor David Gillieson||Adjunct Professor||The University of Queensland|
|Professor Jean-Marc Hero||Professor||Griffith University|
|Professor Marc Hockings||Professor||The University of Queensland|
|Dr Alan House||Principal Ecologist||Ecosure|
|Professor Roger Kitching AM||Professor||Griffith University|
|Dr Frederieke Kroon||Adjunct Lecturer||James Cook University|
|Professor William F. Laurance||Distinguished Research Professor & Australian Laureate||James Cook University|
|Dr Susan Laurance||Senior Lecturer||James Cook University|
|Dr Andrew Le Brocque||Senior Lecturer||University of Southern Queensland|
|Dr Simon Linke||Senior Research Fellow||Griffith University|
|Dr Martine Maron||Senior Lecturer||The University of Queensland|
|Dr Tara Martin||Adjunct Senior Lecturer||The University of Queensland|
|Professor Hamish McCallum||Professor||Griffith University|
|Professor Richard G. Pearson||Emeritus Professor||James Cook University|
|Professor Hugh P. Possingham FAA||Professor||The University of Queensland|
|Professor Bob Pressey FAA||Distinguished Professor||James Cook University|
|Dr Jonathan R. Rhodes||Senior Lecturer||The University of Queensland|
|Dr Cynthia Riginos||Senior Lecturer||The University of Queensland|
|Mr Phil Shaw||Managing Director||Ecosure; Avisure|
|Professor Steve Turton||Professor||James Cook University|
|Associate Professor Peter Valentine||Adjunct Associate Professor||James Cook University|
|Dr David Westcott||Adjunct Senior Lecturer||James Cook University|
|Dr Kerrie Wilson||ARC Future Fellow||The University of Queensland|
|Mr Jon Brodie||Team Leader||James Cook University|