Deforestation is destroying our forest and bushlands. It’s killing our native wildlife, and harming our Great Barrier Reef. It’s spoiling our soil. And it’s a huge step back in the fight against climate change. It’s time to leave deforestation in the past.
What is deforestation?
Over the decades, the causes of deforestation have changed, but the methods haven’t.
Bulldozers, often dragging a chain between them, tear up forest and bush. These trees aren’t used for anything. They’re burned or left to rot.
Major drivers of deforestation in Australia include mining, urban development and agriculture (particularly cattle grazing).
How bad is it?
Queensland alone clears an area of forest and bushland the size of the MCG every three minutes. Almost 300,000 hectares is being lost every year.
A recent study put the wildlife death toll from deforestation just in Queensland at 68 million animals over two years. Since 1996, the Koala Coast along Queensland and New South Wales has lost 80% of its koalas.
Deforestation has a double impact on our climate. Bulldozed trees can’t soak up carbon from the atmosphere. But clearing trees and soil also releases carbon back into the atmosphere.
Much of the clearing in Queensland is in Great Barrier Reef river catchments, exposing the Reef to more deadly runoff.
Why is it legal?
Deforestation was part of Australia’s history since colonisation. In 1990, one million hectares were cleared in the space of a year.
Fifteen years ago, The Wilderness Society, together with a broad alliance of Australians, secured legal controls on deforestation in Australia, and the rate of deforestation eased. This had a range of benefits for communities, wildlife, rivers and the Great Barrier Reef.
But those laws have been eroded by state governments in recent years. Queensland’s Newman LNP Government began weakening protections in 2012 and gutted Queensland’s land clearing laws in 2013. And the New South Wales Government has recently followed in its footsteps, opening up 8 million hectares of forest and bushland to destruction.
Deforestation is back.
What we’re doing about it
We’re fighting for a suite of strong, sensible new laws, with a long-term vision of Zero Deforestation in Australia. We want to see our forest and bush protected and restored.
So we’re meeting with federal and state politicians to make our case. We’re training passionate locals to join with members of their local communities to stand up for nature together. And we’re making sure everyday Australians can see the deforestation crisis for themselves.