Ecologists claim Australia is a global top-ten deforesterWhen you think of devastating deforestation and extinction you usually think of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo. But eastern Australia ranks alongside these in the top 10 of the world’s major deforestation fronts – the only one in a developed nation. Most of the clearing is happening in Queensland, and it is accelerating.
Only last year a group of leading ecologists voiced their alarm at new data which showed the clearing of 296,000 hectares of forest in 2013-14. This was three times higher than in 2008-09, kicking Australia up the list as one of the world’s forest-clearing pariahs. At the 2016 Society for Conservation Biology Conference, a Scientists’ Declaration was signed by hundreds of scientists, expressing concern at these clearing rates.
But the latest snapshot, Queensland’s Department of Science report on land cover change published last month, showed a staggering 395,000ha of clearing for 2015-16: a 133% increase on 2014-15. As far as we can tell this rate of increased clearing is unmatched anywhere else on the globe.
Strong vegetation management laws enacted in Queensland – the Vegetation Management Act 1999 – achieved dramatic reductions in forest and woodland loss. But the subsequent Liberal National state government, elected in 2012, overturned these protections.
The current government, elected in 2015, has tried and failed to reinstate the protections. In response, “panic clearing” caused clearing rates to shoot up, in anticipation that the state election will deliver a government that will reintroduce the much-needed protection of forests.
The Queensland Parliament is now in caretaker mode ahead of the November 25 election. The Queensland Labor Party has pledged to reinstate laws to prevent wholesale clearing, while the LNP opposition has vowed to retain current clearing rates.
Source: the conversation.com
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