Advocating for the Sunshine Coast


Queensland has seen a rapid rise in clearing rates in the last few years..

Current clearing rates are at the highest rate they have been for many years. Official figures indicate that land clearing rates in Queensland have risen from a low point of 78,000 hectares in 2009/10 to 296,000 hectares in 2013/14, and the most recent recording of 392,000 hectares in 2017/18. After a period of decline, this rapid rise in clearing in the last few years can be attributed to changes to laws and regulations by the LNP government. Source: Queensland Government, Remote Sensing Centre, Science Division.

Land clearing law changes allowed for more clearing.

The Newman government ‘took the axe to Queensland’s tree clearing laws’ (their own words), which allowed the clearing of areas that were previously protected. Furthermore, they: reversed the ban on broad-scale clearing; removed protections on ecologically important, rehabilitated woodlands; and reduced the enforcement of regulation and monitoring of land clearing. As a result, the rates of land clearing increased dramatically, giving Queensland the dubious honour for the worst deforestation rates in Australia. 

Following community pressure and the incredible work of environmental organisations, the Labor party (during the 2017 Queensland State Election) promised to make the strongest-ever laws to end deforestation in Queensland. The Labor party followed through on this promise, with the Queensland parliament passing a suite of new land-clearing laws in 2018. The Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018 (Qld) amends the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld), Planning Act 2016 (Qld) and the Water Act 2000 (Qld), with changes including the increased restrictions/preventions of clearing permits and the extension of some existing protections.” Source: The Guardian, 4 May, 2018.


Land and the Great Barrier Reef

Large-scale clearing, erosion and run-off, and climate change combine to add to the Great Barrier’s existing pressures. The Reef 2050 Plan seeks to lay out a pathway to protect the Great Barrier Reef and assumes land clearing law reform will take place in Queensland. However, the Queensland Auditor-General has already pointed to clearing as a key threat to the Great Barrier Reef and the Reef 2050 Plan.

Land clearing, Climate Change and Drought

Clearing is bad for the climate and for drought.

As well as destroying over 300,000 hectares of woodlands in one year (think 300,000 pitches at Lang Park), this also released more than 35.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, stored in the trees that were knocked down. At a more local level, scientific research indicates the removal of woodlands can reduce local rainfall and add to drought. At a time when we should be using trees as a carbon sink, mass clearing is adding to the problem of climate change, and potentially making droughts worse.

Land Clearing and Wildlife Habitat

Millions of native animals which depend on woodlands for their habitats have been killed over the years from land clearing. A number of threatened species, including the iconic koala and some of our rarest birds, are directly impacted by the loss of trees and woodlands. If we want to protect our special, unique biodiversity — one of the stated purposes of the Vegetation Management Act — we need to dramatically reduce land clearing rates.

and what about erosion?

Trees help keep landscapes intact and healthy. Clearing trees can lead to degraded land, erosion and run off especially along river banks. There are many instances now of massive eroded gullies on the east coast of Queensland being created or made worse by tree clearing.

What are the solutions?

We need to ensure that the stronger laws adopted by the Queensland parliament in 2018 are adhered to and these laws are only strengthened, not reversed, in the future. SCEC along with our allies in the conservation sector will be working to ensure this.

What has been SCECs involvement?

  • SCEC has worked tirelessly to protect Queensland's forests for 40 years. We helped secure a regional forests agreement which protected 400,000ha of forests in south-east Queensland.
  • SCEC worked as part of an alliance of conservation groups to secure the stronger laws passed in parliament, to end deforestation in Queensland. We advocate to local and state government representatives on the importance of protecting native forests.