Media Releases - 08 May 2024

Beef industry overlooks deforestation in sustainability update

Deforestation in Queensland.

Meat and Livestock Australia have this week revealed the 2024 results of its Annual Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF) update with a glaring omission—deforestation.

Australia is a global deforestation hotspot, and pasture expansion for beef is a major driver of this shameful achievement. Deforestation for beef has devastating impacts on high conservation value forests and bushlands, threatened species habitat and the Great Barrier Reef.

Meat and Livestock Australia celebrates claims of improved biodiversity management and sustainability progress for the beef industry, but relies on self-selected measures that are not aligned with international best practice. The Wilderness Society says the update is another example of the beef industry trying to market its way out of deforestation, delaying real action and responsibility for reining in Australia’s deforestation crisis.

Research has shown:

  • over 2 million hectares of land was bulldozed between 2016-2021 in Queensland.

  • At least 65% of deforestation in Queensland between 20-21 was to make way for pastures for beef.

  • Over 7.7 million hectares of forest and bushland was destroyed in Australia by land clearing between 2000 and 2017.

As deforestation-free beef becomes a growing requirement from consumers, financiers and export markets to maintain and grow market access, the industry must make robust commitments and targets to eliminate deforestation in line with internationally recognised Science-Based Targets.

Hannah Schuch, Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society Queensland, says, “Without tangible action these forests and bushlands are still on the chopping block. No amount of clever accounting or tricky PR will actually protect Australia’s precious forests from rampant deforestation.

“Forests take decades to grow back but just moments to bulldoze. Genuine and long-term results are only possible if the beef industry—from producers to big beef buyers—backs in genuine, science based commitments. Consumer confidence that the beef they are buying is deforestation-free relies on robust commitments and durable action”

For interviews with Hannah Schuch, Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society Queensland, please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser for the Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760