EDO Qld is closely following the State Government’s second (and final) round of changes to the protected plants framework in Queensland. The changes propose a wide variety of exemptions for the taking of protected plants and remove the requirement for a flora survey to be undertaken according to whether the action is in a high/low risk area of a trigger map.
EDO Qld have serious reservations with the Government’s high/low risk approach. For instance, there is insufficient data on many existing plant communities in Queensland. According to the Queensland Herbarium we actually discover more than 50 new species of plants, algae, lichens and fungi every year (see here).
In addition, the proposed changes don’t seem to have taken into account the impacts on protected plant communities which will result from the recent removal of vegetation clearing restrictions. WWF-Australia estimates that some 700,000 hectares of regrowth vegetation and 85,000 kilometres of riparian vegetation are now at increased risk of clearing (see here) as a result of those changes.
When there is still so much we don’t know about Queensland’s biodiversity, how can the Government confidently push ahead with a low/high risk strategy like this?
This ultimately runs counter to a precautionary approach on managing our threatened species.