PHOTO: The WWF says its tree clearing report has been reviewed by independent ecologists. (ABC TV – file image)
A new report has found State Government plans to relax tree clearing laws in Queensland would be an environmental disaster.
MAP: Rockhampton 4700
The study was commissioned by the conservation group WWF and has been reviewed by independent ecologists.
It shows the Queensland Government is placing 2 million hectares of sensitive bushland and wildlife habitat at risk.
WWF chief executive officer Dermot O’Gorman says the decision is based on flawed and dangerous information.
“These 2 million hectares of bushland are home to around 160 species of endangered and vulnerable native plants and animals, everything from koalas, wallabies, cockatoos to cassowaries,” he said.
“The new loopholes would mean the Minister would allow broadscale land clearing from as much as 1.3 million hectares of mature bushland.”
Mr O’Gorman says it will be an “environmental disaster”.
“Prior to the previous election, Premier [Campbell] Newman gave a commitment to retain the levels of statutory vegetation,” he said.
“We are really calling on the Premier to honour his promise and to not put at risk the 2 million hectares of ecologically important [land] and wildlife that these proposed changes would put at risk.”
Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps says the WWF is scaremongering.
“The amendments that we’re putting forward do not allow for indiscriminate or broadscale tree clearing,” he said.
“They allow for landowners, farmers, to come forward with a business case for the sustainable and orderly development of their farm business.”
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett says the environment is a key focus for the State Government.
He says it is about making decisions that benefit everyone.
“What we are doing is making sensible decisions about how we can use some of our resources better,” he said.
“I think we’re actually doing more for the environment.
“We’re promoting environmental outcomes with our farmers, we’re looking at the reef as a key resource, we’re investing more money than ever in making sure our rivers and our streams are operating efficiently.
“There’s no doubt they’re under pressure, but we need to be working strategically to make sure they’re there for our grandchildren.”
Story By Francis Tapim, Gail Burke and Alyse EdwardsUpdated Fri 10 May 2013, 4:43pm AEST.
First posted Fri 10 May 2013, 7:55am AEST.