Qld govt launches land clearing probe

·1-min read

The Queensland government wants to find out why the state is clearing almost 10 times more land than NSW and Victoria combined, so it can reduce its impacts on biodiversity.

Almost 560,000 hectares of woody vegetation were lost to agriculture, forestry and infrastructure in Queensland in 2018-19, according to a government report.

In contrast, about 51,400 hectares were cleared in NSW and 10,380 hectares were cleared in Victoria in 2020.

In Queensland, the vast majority of land was cleared to make way for new agricultural pastures, and came in the same year that clearing laws were tightened.

The state government has appointed a panel to find out why so much land is being cleared and what can be done to avoid it

Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham says the panel will advise the government how to protect biodiversity "without compromising economic productivity".

"We're working to better understand where and why native vegetation is being cleared and the different types of clearing in Queensland," Prof Possingham said in a statement.

"With that information in hand, the panel can work out what reforms or incentives may be introduced to enhance the protection and regeneration of native vegetation while ensuring farmers and the economy prosper.

"Land clearing affects regional communities, habitats, trade, climate change action, the Reef and is important to the future of the state."

The independent panel includes experts in agriculture, ecology, law, social science, economics, and First Nations representatives.

It has already consulted peak groups and travelled to Queensland's Western Downs to identify regional issues and meet with landholders.

The panel is expected to publish a draft discussion paper in August and a final report by the end of the year.

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