Queensland Alone Has Cleared Half The Country's Native Forests

In just four years, an area seven-times the size of Brisbane has been cleared.

What you need to know
  • Queensland has cleared more land than any other state or territory.
  • There's renewed pressure on the Queensland Government to restrict land clearing.
  • Restricting land clearing could help fight the impacts of climate change.

Queensland has become Australia’s hot spot for land clearing, new research by the Climate Council has revealed.

The sunshine state has cleared between 50 and 65 percent of the total loss of native forests across the country over the past four decades, the report released in Brisbane on Tuesday suggests.

Following the report’s release, the Climate Council is putting renewed pressure on the Queensland Government to pass proposed changes to state laws, to restrict land clearing.

65 percent of total native land cleared in Australia has been cleared in Queensland.  Image : Getty Images

Climate Councillor and international climate scientist Professor Will Steffen said the report demonstrates the significant role that land clearing regulation plays in tackling climate change, with weak laws leading to extensive clearing and large amounts of greenhouse gas pollution.

“Queensland’s land use sector alone was responsible for 19 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution in 2015,” he said.

The Climate Council says one million hectares of woody vegetation was cleared in Queensland between 2012-13 and 2015-16. That’s an area seven times the size of Brisbane.

But there’s been strong opposition from farmers to pass the proposed laws. Agforce General President Grant Maudsley says the recommended changes will make it harder to grow food and crops.

“It will shut down agricultural development opportunities and lead to worse, not better environmental outcomes,” he said.

Farmers argue that they respect and care for the land and the vast majority know how to manage it responsibly. They’re concerned the proposed laws are being pushed through too quickly and the changes will ‘strange farmers in red tape.’

Climate Council CEO Martin Lang said it’s about “finding a balance.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said despite opposition, her government remains committed to the new laws, which were an election promise.

Frustrated farmers are planning a rally outside Parliament House next Tuesday May 1, ahead of the next sitting of State Parliament.