WWF-Australia tonight (Thursday) welcomed the introduction of legislation in the Queensland Parliament to restore land clearing controls stripped away by the previous state government.
“The measures in this Bill are sensible and balanced and should reign in the rampant destruction of threatened species habitat that followed the weakening of land clearing controls,” said WWF-Australia scientist Dr Martin Taylor.
Highlights of the bill include that it:
- Restores the 2006 ban on broadscale clearing by removing the so-called “high value” agriculture loophole
- Reinstates the regulation of clearing of 1.18 million hectares of high value regrowth forests
- Removes roadblocks to prosecutions for illegal clearing, and
- Extends 50 metre buffers to all Great Barrier Reef catchments (not just northern catchments)
“The expansion of stream protection buffers is a major step forward for reef protection,” Dr Taylor said.
“Vegetation around watercourses stops soil erosion and acts like a filter to trap sediment and nutrients.
“When vegetation is cleared right up to the stream edge, more sediment and nutrients flow out to the Reef harming coral and seagrass.
“With coral bleaching escalating the Reef needs all the help it can get.
“By looking at satellite images WWF has found many cases where vegetation buffers have been completely removed,” he said.
The Reef Report Card released last year showed that those catchments without protections, the Fitzroy and Burnett-Mary, had 2-3 times the rate of riparian clearing than other catchments. The riparian area cleared in these two catchments was at least 20 000 hectares over 4 years.
Dr Taylor said the introduction of the Bill is an important first step but without the support of MPs it would not become law.
“WWF calls on all MPs to support these common-sense laws to give our threatened species a fighting chance,” he said.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571