Queensland forests 'cleared like Amazon'
By Bill Mason
BRISBANE — Queensland is losing proportionately as much forest and woodland each year through clearing as the Amazon basin of South America, according to state officials.
Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service senior conservation officer Peter Stanton said on July 9 a comparison of figures between the Amazon and Queensland showed the percentage to be about the same.
He said Queensland was one of the few states not to have controls on freehold land.
An estimated 5000 sq km a year are currently being cleared in the state. While fines for clearing public leasehold land have been increased, there are no plans by the government to restrict freehold clearing.
Queensland Conservation Council project officer Nicky Hungerford said legislation should be introduced to control freehold land.
She said conservationists were not against graziers clearing, but against the manner in which it was undertaken by a minority. "We have the examples of what happens when you over-clear. Look at South Australia. It's just one big dust bowl."
In the first such prosecution on record, a Central Queensland grazier was fined about $550 on July 9 for clearing state leasehold land and a road reserve without a permit.