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Law Reform · Access to Justice

Vegetation Changes: Background information

19 April, 2013

The laws that brought an end to the clearing and devastation of Queensland’s endangered regrowth forests, bushland and riverine vegetation are being torn up in proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act.

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 Before the Vegetation Management Act came into effect, Queensland was experiencing high rates of clearing – between 300,000 and 750,000 hectares a year between 1988 and 1999. After a major campaign from Queensland conservation groups, new laws were brought in that led to a decline in clearing rates to 77,590ha in 2009-10.[1]

10 days prior to the 2012 election, Campbell Newman wrote to WWF’s CEO, Dermott O’Gorman, promising that the “LNP will retain the current level of statutory vegetation protection”.[2]

Despite this public commitment Minister Cripps in the Liberal-National Party Government is now proposing to water down vegetation protection.

His proposal is to remove protection from at least 700,000 hectares (7,000 square km) of important ‘regrowth’ forests and bushland. What is proposed will open up 100,000s of hectares of endangered and ecologically important forests and bushland for clearing. This will include known habitat for koalas, cassowaries, mahogany gliders and hundreds of other threatened species.

As well, exemptions and other loopholes will allow clearing of unspecified areas of mature bush for so-called ‘high value agriculture’ – a term yet to be defined by the government. Such areas include rainforest, habitat for koalas and cassowaries, streamside bush and other areas of great importance for wildlife and people.

Please contact your local Queensland Government Member of Parliament and tell them you want the Premier’s pre-election commitment to be kept and Minister Cripps’ proposals removed from consideration. Past experiences shows us that people power will turn around bad decisions. We know from public and private statements that the Queensland Government is already worried about a backlash on this issue. The key is to make all Government members realise that what their leaders are putting forward is bad policy which the great majority of Queenslanders will not support.

When you call or email your local member remember that a simple and firm message is best.  If you phone an electorate officer will likely answer the phone.  It’s their job to listen and take your message and pass it on to the MP.

[1] Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. 2010. Land Cover Change in Queensland 2009-2010: Statewide Landcover and Trees Study Report, p 1. Available online: http://www.nrm.qld.gov.au/slats/pdf/slats_report_and_regions_0910/slats-0910-approved-final-web.pdf

[2] http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/SDIIC/2013/10-VegetatationMgmtFramewk/submissions/057.pdf , p 17.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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