Australia’s laws are not properly protecting native species and their homes.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) holds grave fears for greater gliders on a north Queensland property as new satellite images show an area of confirmed habitat for the endangered species appears to have been cleared.

ACF’s Nature Policy Analyst, James Trezise, said the satellite images of woodland on Meadowbank Station raised serious questions about the adequacy of Australia’s environment laws in protecting endangered wildlife.

“Although the Federal Government approved the clearing of 1,365 hectares of native woodland at Meadowbank Station, trees in an area that was meant to be protected as a key condition of the approval now appear to have been cleared.

“Approval to destroy more than 1,300 hectares of habitat for the greater glider should never have been granted in the first place.

“There is evidence senior cabinet ministers lobbied for this land clearing to be approved.

“This highlights the regulatory failures of our existing environmental approval system.

“Australia’s laws are not properly protecting native species and their homes.

“In the 20 years Australia has had a national environment law, an area of threatened species habitat larger than Tasmania has been logged, bulldozed and cleared.

“We need an independent regulator Australians can trust that is at arms’ length from government and completely free from political interference.

“The current review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, led by Graeme Samuel, provides a golden opportunity for the Morrison Government to create strong laws that actually protect Australia’s precious species.”

In 2018 the Federal Government approved the clearing of 1,365 hectares of native woodland at Meadowbank Station in north Qld.

ACF became aware there were endangered greater gliders – and other threatened species – living in the area approved for clearing.

The approval excluded 106.8 hectares of woodland from the clearing permit after a survey found gliders living there. The Government considered the rest of the area was not glider habitat. But ACF was concerned gliders did live there and sent a team out there to check.

In just two nights of spotlighting, conducted from adjacent public land in June, ACF’s field survey found seven gliders in the woodland that was approved to be cleared.

ACF wrote to Minister Ley in July asking her to suspend the approval under Section 144 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act until a full and independent on-ground assessment was conducted.

But without any action from the Minister, in August, around 400 hectares of woodland at Meadowbank, including parts of the area supposedly set aside to protect greater gliders, was burned down.

Now, satellite images appear to show trees from the ‘protected area’ have been cleared.

ACF has not heard back from Minister Ley following the request to suspend the approval.

More background to the Meadowbank Station situation here.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@mail.acf.org.au