Issues Magazine

Queensland clearing laws could kill over 400 million native animals


Humane Society International

Humane Society International (HSI) Campaign Director Michael Kennedy said today: “With the passage of legislation through the Queensland Parliament this week allowing farmers to clear potentially large areas of threatened wildlife habitats and graze cattle in National Parks, and news confirming that an incoming Coalition Government would devolve the Commonwealth’s national environment powers to the states and territories, a national environmental disaster is looming.”

Mr Kennedy continued, “Under the amendments to Queensland’s Vegetation Management Act, approximately 2,000,000 hectares (5,000,000 acres) of wildlife habitats are at-risk of clearing*. Extrapolating from a scientific report** on the numbers of animals killed during land clearing operations in Queensland during the late 90s, it can be estimated that if all land clearing options were taken up by Queensland farmers, in the region of 455 million native animals could be killed as a result. And even if only a quarter of this land total was cleared, we are still talking about killing over 100 million animals.”

The Commonwealth’s Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) also protects 14 threatened ecological communities*** in Queensland, highly endangered habitats that require the Federal Environment Minister’s permission before any development can occur that may significantly affect them. It is estimated* that 169,000 hectares of mature bushland and 366,000 hectares of important regrowth habitats of these threatened ecological communities are now at risk from clearing, presenting Minister Burke with clear reasons for intervening in Queensland.

Cattle grazing is also highly destructive on the natural environment, spreading weeds, significantly damaging waterways and having the potential to destroy critical habitats and native ground-dwelling species. Giving a few private individuals access to a highly valuable public asset, due to their continuing incompetence, is a public policy travesty. Calls by the RSPCA in Queensland to allow cattle to graze in National Parks are chronically misguided, and do not address the root cause of the plight of the animals – greed and prolonged environmental and livestock mismanagement.

Mr Kennedy concluded, “We are urging the Prime Minister and Environment Minster Burke to change the Federal environment laws so that any incoming Coalition Government cannot devolve national environment powers; introduce new national environment “triggers” for land clearing and the National Reserve System; and to “call-in” Queensland land clearing and cattle grazing proposals and actions for assessment under the EPBC Act.”