EDO Qld is proud to have acted as legal advisers to the campaign run by Queensland Conservation Council, The Wilderness Society, WWF Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation that finally brought an end to broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation in Queensland.
Vast areas of Queensland have been stripped of their original vegetation, degrading land and water and depriving wildlife of habitat. In the decade to 2005, Queensland lost almost half a million hectares of native bush every year to land clearing, more than 90 per cent for cattle grazing. To stop this destruction was Queensland’s most important environmental challenge.
Campaigning started in the early 1990s with environmentalists calling for limits on clearing, particularly on state-owned leasehold land. In 1991, the State Government brought in laws to protect some threatened types of vegetation on leasehold land. But clearing continued on a vast scale. In 1999 the state government introduced further laws to prevent the clearing of endangered vegetation on freehold land. Again, this failed to reign in rampant clearing. In 2003 the State and Federal Governments agreed that clearing should be phased out but the Federal Government then reneged on an agreement to assist with funding to help landholders adjust. Queensland’s Labor Party decided to go it alone with the reforms and made an election commitment in 2004 to phase out broadscale clearing.
The end to broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation (in rural not urban areas) came into effect in December 2006, protecting almost 20 million hectares of native bushland that could otherwise have been cleared.
EDO Qld’s Jo Bragg and Larissa Waters helped the campaign groups draft and co-ordinate three major submissions to government outlining requirements for legislative change. We scrutinised drafts of Bills and provided detailed comments to the department on drafting changes to further protect vegetation and better achieve policy commitments. Major gains were made, including exclusion of Cape York Peninsula from the 500,000 hectare remnant broadscale clearing ballot, improvements to the purpose statement of the Bill, preventing thinning by chaining, and requiring demonstrated proof of thickening before thinning can be considered.
EDO Qld analysed and proposed improvements to two drafts of the regional vegetation management codes (against which applications are assessed) and the Regulations.
EDO Qld continues to work with environment groups to further improve vegetation laws and assists the community to use the laws.