The “unsettled science” around the amount of vegetation growing in Queensland compared to how much is being cleared has led to new calls from AgForce for a rethink of proposed laws that would make it harder for farmers to grow food.
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said the Palaszczuk Government was pushing ahead with harsh new vegetation management restrictions despite admitting they had only examined clearing rates not regrowth rates.
“Farmers love and care for their land, and need to manage vegetation and regrowth on their properties to sustainably produce the great food and fibre consumers demand,” he said.
“The Queensland Government will make it harder for farmers to do their jobs and harder for farmers to create jobs by ramming through flawed laws based on studies that only look at half the picture.
“AgForce has always said we are willing to engage in a science and evidence based process on this issue, but that means looking at all the facts, including how much vegetation is growing, not just how much is cleared.”
Mr Maudsley said AgForce was requesting an independent review of the scientific data around vegetation management, including determining what knowledge gaps existed in the research.
“The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations noted Australia is second only to China in reporting the greatest annual net gain in forest area* while the Federal Environment Department has noted ‘the area of land under forest in Australia is tending to increase’,** he said.
“That same Federal Government report stated that clearing to maintain pasture and to manage regrowth ‘contribute negligible amounts of net greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term’.
“In addition, former Queensland Government scientist Dr Bill Burrows gave evidence to a recent Parliamentary hearing that ‘any releases of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as a result of clearing for vegetation management are more than offset by … grazed woodland thickening’.***
“These differing reports highlight why the Palaszczuk Government needs to rethink its flawed laws and stop trying to ram changes through as quickly as possible when they know more scientific work and analysis needs to be done.
“Enough is enough. We’re all in this together. Let’s find a long-lasting solution that delivers good outcomes for the environment and agriculture without strangling farmers in red tape.”
*Source: Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2015, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
**Source: ‘Focus on Land Sector Estimates, Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy, May 2017, p 4 – 5
***Source: Transcript, Rockhampton public hearing of the inquiry into the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018