The blocking of important land clearing laws in the Queensland Parliament threatens the state’s unique environment and will entrench ongoing run-off damage to the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

“The current laws fail to properly consider the full environmental or economic impacts of land clearing – they need to be reformed,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Northern Australia Program Officer Andrew Picone.

“The federal government’s recent intervention to halt and assess land clearing on Cape York’s Kingvale and Olive Vale stations shows the current system in Queensland is broken and needs fixing. 

“The Great Barrier Reef sustains around 70,000 jobs, but the reef has been hit hard by bleaching, caused by global warming, and damage from run-off.

“The erosion that inevitably accompanies land clearing will do further damage to the much-loved reef.

“To improve economic opportunity in remote Australia in places such as Cape York we have to start thinking outside the marginal and unimaginative industries of last century – big cattle, big agriculture and big mining – which are in fact the greatest threat to the area’s prosperity.

“There are already many Queensland landholders benefiting from innovative approaches to the land that keep trees, soils and carbon intact – including tourism, carbon abatement, land stewardship and less intensive cattle grazing.

“The Palaszczuk government’s proposed changes to the Newman-era clearing laws would have enabled economic growth, but place proportionate value on environmental assets such as Cape York’s savannahs and the Great Barrier Reef.

“Since Newman first took the axe to Queensland’s tree laws in 2012, nearly one million hectares of remnant and regrowth forest and woodland has been cleared – that slash and burn mentality cannot continue.

“A business-as-usual approach will only result in depriving future generations of their ecological and cultural inheritance,” Mr Picone said.

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