Environment, Carbon and Forests
April Reside, a leading ecologist, tells us about scary prospects for wildlife in Queensland, Australia:
Queensland has once again become a global land-clearing hotspot, after its vegetation laws were torn up by the previous state government.
Since then, the rate of forest, woodland, and regrowth destruction has more than doubled.
Land clearing in Queensland is the biggest driver of decline for many species -- including at least 95 species of threatened animals and 12 species of threatened plants. These include koalas, black-throated finches, cassowaries, and many reptile species.
Some of the vegetation clearing is being done with so-called "self-assessable codes". This means that landholders can clear habitat without a permit from the state government.
This also results in little oversight by the federal government -- because nationally threatened species are losing their habitats but neither the federal nor state government is tracking it.
Large-scale clearing, such as for 'high-value agriculture’, is also racing ahead, though at least this requires a permit.
For example, on the remote Cape York Peninsula, one of Australia’s biggest land-clearing applications -- 58,000 hectares, an area larger than 100,000 football fields -- was approved for Strathmore Cattle Station.
Environmentally speaking, it's getting really strange Down Under. Australia is spending billions of dollars trying to achieve the carbon-storage benefits already provided by native vegetation, via programs such as the Emissions Reduction Fund, the 20 Million Trees program, and Reef Rescue.
Yet Queensland is undermining these expensive programs by allowing land clearing -- and the huge carbon emissions it generates -- to escalate.
Politically, economically, and ecologically, this defies all logic.
Queensland needs to cap the clearing of critical habitats for imperiled wildlife -- and it needs to do so now.
In Queensland, the government is letting big landowners run rampant. Just ask the koalas, birds, and other wildlife whose homes are being bulldozed to oblivion.
Lead image (c) Yatra/Shutterstock
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