Map points out ‘panic clearing’ ahead of deforestation laws
AREAS of bushland near Bundaberg, Mackay, Toowoomba and Maryborough have been included on a tree-clearing 'map of shame' produced by the World Wildlife Fund.
The conservation group's report suggests Queensland landholders are "panic clearing" land before stronger legislation to tackle deforestation can be implemented.
The new Labor Government is yet to tighten legislation to tackle deforestation after the former LNP government made it easier for farmers to clear land for certain agricultural projects.
Martin Taylor from the WWF said the group's report found land clearing in the state had more than tripled from about 78,000ha a year in 2009-10 to about 278,000ha in 2013-14.
Dr Taylor said since February three approvals had been granted for land clearing in the Bundaberg area and one unexplained clearing had occurred in the region sometime between 2012 and 2014.
The map also highlights unexplained clearings that have occurred near Mackay, Toowoomba and Maryborough since last year.
"Much of the clearing is in reef catchments," Dr Taylor said.
"This risks increased levels of soil and chemicals being washed into the reef lagoon at a time when Australia has promised UNESCO big reductions in these threats."
Dr Taylor said in the report it was highly likely land clearing in the first year of the Palaszczuk Government would exceed the already high levels of 2013-14 because of panic clearing unless the government acted promptly to prevent it.
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said a proposed new vegetation monitoring system would make it easier to prevent unauthorised clearing.
The system, which will use satellite images to spot changes, is set to be trialled soon.