The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) coming under fire from the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines.
Successive Queensland governments in the 1990s to 2009 bought in laws which provided strong protection for bushland in Queensland. This followed major campaigns from Queensland conservation groups supported by the great majority of Queenslanders.
Before the Vegetation Management Act came into effect Queensland was experiencing some of the highest rates of clearing in the world – similar to Brazil’s clearing of the Amazon!
Once the new laws started to take effect clearing rates declined from a massive 750,000ha a year before laws were introduced in 1999 to 77,590ha in 2009-10.
In an election-eve letter to WWF’s CEO, Dermott O’Gorman, Campbell Newman promised that the “LNP will retain the current level of statutory vegetation protection”. The letter was sent just 10 days out from the 2012 state election. He made a similar commitment in a letter to the Queensland Conservation Council representing a wide membership of conservation groups across Queensland.
Proposed reforms to relax Vegetation Management laws have been referred to the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry parliamentary committee.
WWF believe that despite this public commitment Minister Cripps in the Liberal-National Party Government is now proposing to water down protection.
The following is a media release from Minister Crisp.....
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The Honourable Andrew Cripps
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
WWF wrong on vegetation reforms
The Newman Government has rejected claims by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that common sense changes to Queensland’s vegetation management laws will damage the environment.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act were well-considered and maintained critical protection measures for vegetation adjacent to watercourses in Great Barrier Reef catchments.
“Green groups are at it again, spruiking ill-informed and alarmist rhetoric in an attempt to stay relevant and grab media headlines,” Mr Cripps said.
“If WWF CEO Dermot O’Gorman properly read our proposed legislation, he’d discover that the Newman Government will retain 50-metre buffer zones alongside rivers and streams in reef catchments to protect water quality in these environmentally-sensitive areas.
“I notice also that the WWF supports the introduction of industry-led Best Management Practice programs as the primary way of boosting agricultural production.
“However if the WWF was genuine, it would acknowledge that the LNP Government has committed $5.4 million to progressing BMP programs in the grazing and cane industries.”
However, Mr Cripps emphasised that while industry BMP programs played an important role in supporting sustainable farming practices, they would not deliver the productivity gains or economic growth in regional Queensland to achieve the Government’s agricultural production targets.
“The Government has made it clear it plans to double the value of agricultural production in Queensland by 2040, and these reforms are a vital component to achieving that goal,” he said.
“The proposals contained in the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013 will allow sustainable vegetation management activities to occur, to support the development of high value agriculture in areas with appropriate land and available water.”
Mr Cripps said the amendments would restore a long-overdue balance to Queensland’s vegetation management framework, while retaining key environmental protections.
“Consecutive Labor Governments had, in the past, enforced radical green policies upon landholders that threatened their ability to effectively manage their farm businesses and maintain productivity,” he said.
“In contrast, we are creating an opportunity for farming businesses to expand cropping operations and build infrastructure without the burden of unnecessary regulation.”
Mr Cripps stressed that environmental values would be protected through these reforms.
“These reforms do not mean landholders can indiscriminately clear land. Inappropriate vegetation management practices that show no regard for the environment will not be supported. Monitoring will still occur and penalties for illegal clearing of vegetation still apply.”
More information on the amendments is available under Vegetation Management at:www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/home
[ENDS] 30 April 2013
Media contact: Jane Paterson 0417 281 754 or Paul Sutherland 0428 868 237