The Hon Dr Anthony Lynham, Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
The Hon Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reff, Minister for Science, Minister for the Arts

New nation-leading tree-clearing protections take effect from today as the Palaszczuk Government delivers on one of its key, long-standing election commitments.

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham introduced the tree-clearing reforms, telling Parliament that they would reinstate a responsible vegetation management and protection framework for Queensland.

“These laws will protect our climate, our wildlife and our Great Barrier Reef, and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on the Reef,” Dr Lynham said.

“They will continue Labor’s proud legacy from 1999 to 2013.

“Landholders will still be able to maintain their land and clear fodder trees to feed their stock, and the majority of landholders will continue to do the right thing, as they do now.”

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government’s policy was based on science and would maintain biodiversity, reduce land degradation, protect water quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the sustainable use of land.

“The changes proposed in this legislation are backed by science and have been expertly prepared by the Queensland Herbarium and peer reviewed by the CSIRO,” Ms Enoch said.

“In 2015/16, close to 400,000 hectares of vegetation was cleared under the former LNP Government – that’s more than twice the area of Brisbane and seven times the size of Rockhampton.

“If the current clearing rate continues, it will drive native wildlife to extinction, put jobs reliant on the Great Barrier Reef at risk, drive up Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent Australia from meeting its international climate commitments.

“This policy forms part of a suite of initiatives the Palaszczuk Government is delivering to protect our environment, tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions.”

Among the changes, the proposed laws will:

  • ban broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation for agriculture
  • expand the “high value regrowth” that is protected from vegetation that hasn’t been cleared since the beginning of 1990 – 28 year-old trees – to 15-year-old trees. This means an extra 232,000 ha of trees will be protected.
  • increase, up to almost treble, the maximum penalties courts could impose for illegal clearing to more than half-a-million-dollars
  • give compliance officers more powers and enforcement tools
  • require farmers to get approval to thin vegetation
  • still allow farmers to harvest fodder trees to feed livestock.

Dr Lynham said the government was meeting its election commitment to retain the accepted development codes that are supported by science.

“New, more accurate vegetation maps were also released today for the entire state, the first major review of major update to vegetation and ecosystem mapping in five years.

“The improved maps now reflect the best available sciences and will support landholders to manage their land,” he said.

“Landholders will continue to have certainty about what they will be able to clear in the future because we are retaining Property Map of Assessable Vegetation (PMAV).”

Some aspects of the proposed legislation take effect immediately, and the Bill will now go to committee hearings, including public hearings and submissions.

Media inquiries:

Dr Lynham – Jan Martin 0439 341 314

Minister Enoch – Pam Frost 0437 859 987