Clearing of Native Vegetation
For some time, we have been concerned about loss of native vegetation in sensitive
areas - particularly near watercourses and hanging swamps. This
is especially a problem on private land where new houses are being
A particularly blatant land clearing in Katoomba recently brought matters to a head,
resulting in vigorous protest from the Society, the local Landcare
Group and residents. Council had approved the construction of
a house on a block which contained a hanging swamp and stipulated
that this portion of the block remain undisturbed. The owner proceeded
to systematically remove 99% of the native vegetation, including
600 sq metres of hanging swamp.
We believe that Council's actions to protect this sensitive area have been inadequate.
The Mayor, Jim Angel, took the initiative to call a meeting between the Society and
Council to look at ways of improving native vegetation protection
in the future. Four members from the Society and the Landcare
Group met with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Ward 1 Councillors and
senior Council staff on January 17.
Commitments were made
by Council to pursue a number of the ideas. A Vegetation Protection
Order is to be developed, which would protect all vegetation not
just trees. The creation of a position for an environmental scientist
who would review development applications and ways to provide
better information to landowners are being considered.
While these steps
will help avoid these disasters in future, we believe they won't
work on their own. Council must be more vigorous in enforcing
its environmental standards.
Also, Council's effectiveness
in protecting threatened species and watercourses was of real
concern. We are taking these matters up with the relevant Government
Departments, to seek their views on whether Council has fulfilled
its legal obligations.
The meeting was very
constructive with a number of ideas which the Society has been
pursuing for many years being discussed seriously. The Mayor agreed
that the meeting reconvene before end April, so that we could
be brought up to date with Council's actions.
Queensland Clearing Controls at Risk
for agriculture in Queensland continues to be Australia's most
urgent and massive environmental issue.
were put through the Queensland's state parliament late last year,
thanks in part to pressure from people writing in from around
the country. Although minimalist, providing b protection
for only existing threatened ecosystems, they can be described
as a "good start".
However, while the
legislation has gone through parliament the controls have not
yet been 'proclaimed' as needed for them to become law. Local
reports indicate that massive panic clearing continued during
this hiatus, and is continuing as you read this.
The Qld government
is seeking significant funds from the Federal Government to assist
with money for incentives and compensation moneys for landowners
to help implement the laws. Over the last several weeks there
has been a stand-off between (Labor) Premier Beattie and Federal
(Liberal) Environment Minister Senator Hill. The Premier said
he wouldn't implement the legislation without significant federal
money. The Senator has said it is a state problem - despite writing
to the Premier several months ago urging him to put in ber
clearing controls. Now the Federal Agriculture Minister, (National
Party) Mr. Truss has entered the debate describing the controls
themselves as unreasonable on farmers. Various farmers groups
in Qld are organising a very aggressive campaign attacking the
The net result of
this set of party politics is that the Queensland Government is
now threatening to not proclaim the legislation at all, due to
lack of funding. The Qld Premier is meeting the Prime Minister
shortly and will discuss the issue of funding.
Given the national
scale of the clearing in Queensland, and the biodiversity, greenhouse,
land degradation and salinity consequences of continued broad
scale clearing the conservation groups working on the issue believe
it is reasonable and appropriate for the federal government to
assist with significant funding.
Messages to the Prime
Minister (Parliament House, Canberra 2601) would be greatly appreciated
at the moment pointing out to him the need to provide some funds
to assist Queensland with implementing effective clearing controls
- just a short message urging him to assist because of the national
importance that clearing be controlled in Queensland. Dr. Barry
Traill, Australian Woodlands Conservancy, RMB 1207 Chiltern 3683,
ph/fax: 0357 261885, email: firstname.lastname@example.org