Tree-clearing: will you speak up to stop this madness?

Tree-clearing at Olive Vale, Cape York. Photo Kerry Trapnell.

Tree-clearing at Olive Vale, Cape York. Photo courtesy of Kerry Trapnell.

The clearing of vegetation across Queensland advanced with giant strides following the Newman government’s weakening of tree-clearing laws in 2013 – tripling in scale in the last few years. it is taking a devastating toll on wildlife.

If tree-dwelling mammals are not directly killed by the felling of their homes, if bird nests, eggs and young are not smashed by the same action or if ground-dwelling creatures are not crushed by machinery, those that escape are faced with the near-impossible task of finding new shelter, food and breeding sites in what habitat remains. Many already threatened or vulnerable species are affected.

In the process they are at high risk of predation, starvation and other forms of death if driven into the path of traffic, dogs and barbed wire fences.  If they somehow make it to “safe” habitat they will almost certainly be repelled by the wildlife already in occupation.

This is the immediate and shocking result of unregulated clearing. But there are many others.

  • Carbon emissions increase as destroyed vegetation releases stored carbon into the atmosphere. 90% of all Australia’s carbon emissions resulting from land-clearing are generated here in Queensland (35.8 million tonnes in 2013-14)
  • The capacity for natural carbon sequestration to occur is hugely reduced. Trees are the carbon storage experts – lose them and we lose their storage.
  • Soil salinity, soil erosion, agricultural run-off and sedimentation of watercourses all increase; water quality of our creeks, rivers, inshore and reef waters declines.
  • Health of marine ecosystems, including the GBR and fisheries declines.
  • Natural ecological processes are disrupted; extinction rates rise, biodiversity declines. An estimated half of Queensland’s ecosystems, and hundreds of vulnerable species, are threatened by land-clearing.
  • As habitat for native plants and animals is fragmented or completely destroyed risks to remaining uncleared habitat from fire and weed invasion increases.
  • What chance for the Reef? Land-clearing provides a double whammy by producing two of the most damaging impacts on corals: poor water quality and, through increased carbon emissions,  rising water temperatures and acidity.

The action of the Newman Government in 2013 to weaken the Vegetation Management Act was probably the most harmful assault on our wildlife and the health of our environment in decades.

The current Government made a pre-election commitment to restore those sections of the legislation thrown out by their predecessors and has introduced a bill to that purpose. This bill is being strenuously opposed by the LNP opposition and the two Katter Party members. The three independents Rob Pyne, Billy Gordon and Speaker Peter Wellington are not yet committed to supporting or opposing the new Bill. This is where you come in!

We need to show all members (ALP, LNP, KAP or independents) that there is strong community support for the restoration of tree-clearing controls. We need to tell them it is not just our precious wildlife that is being set at risk, but that our own health, our future and our economy is in jeopardy if this fast track to destruction continues. Never doubt the power of your voice – joined with others it is what changes minds, policy and actions. Silence is likely to be interpreted as indifference or acquiescence.

Below are details of who to contact and how – can you please contact at least 4 of them? Start with your own MP (no matter what party). Then – and this is critical – all three independents. If you can manage more, then email LNP leader Lawrence Springborg and Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk. If you can only manage one, then just do that – but once you have composed one email or phone message, it really takes only seconds to get it out to others. (KAP members are unlikely to be swayed but are included here if you want to give them a try)

“Do we really care so little about the earth on which we live that we don’t want to protect [its wonders] from the consequences of our actions?”   Sir David Attenborough.

Contacting your local member: The email addresses for all Queensland MPs follow the same format, ie:, so for instance if you are in the Mundingburra electorate you would contact Coralie O’Rourke at If in doubt check here for the full listing. 

Contacting crossbench members, Premier, Opposition Leader (Please contact all 3 Independents, and the KAP MPs if you can)

William (Billy) Gordon (IND Cook)  ph. 4223 1100

Rob Pyne (IND Cairns)  ph. 4229 0110

Peter Wellington (Speaker) (IND Nicklin)  ph. 5406 4100

Robbie Katter (Leader KAP Mount Isa)  ph. 4410 4100

Shane Knuth (KAP Dalrymple)  ph. 4409 0100

Premier  Annastacia Palaszczuk (ALP)   ph. 3719 7000

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg (LNP)  ph. 3838 6767

Keep your messages polite and reasonably brief. You can include some of the points above if you wish but a simple letter expressing your genuine feelings can also carry considerable weight. Make sure you state clearly that you support the restoration of the tree-clearing controls that were removed in 2013.

You can also make a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry on the Government’s Bill. This link [Link expired] will help you do this but the closing date is 25 April so don’t delay. You can use the same points as in your messages to MPs.  I urge you to do whatever you can to make your voice heard.


Photo from Land Clearing Action Qld


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