Public Statement of Concern from Queensland Scientists

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.

Signed

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

Additional signatories

Mr Jon Brodie Team Leader James Cook University
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