Media Releases - 09 May 2024

Cattle Australia releases ‘land management’ principles in lieu of real action on deforestation

Deforestation in Queensland

Despite Cattle Australia’s hollow announcement today of draft principles to define “good land management in the Australian landscape”, real action to end deforestation is long overdue. Australia is a global deforestation hotspot—a major cause of which is the expansion of beef pastures.

Deforestation for beef pasture expansion has devastating impacts on high conservation value forests and bushlands, threatened species habitat and the Great Barrier Reef. It is also a significant contributor to climate change.

The Wilderness Society says the principles are another example of the beef industry looking for more special treatment and continuing to avoid taking responsibility for driving Australia’s deforestation crisis.

The principles released today by Cattle Australia around simplicity of use, compliance and traceability are necessary but are only worthwhile if they underpin a solid deforestation-free commitment—which for now, is non-existent in the industry.

Consumers, financiers and export markets increasingly demand deforestation-free beef. 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, Queensland Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society, says, “Wasting time window-dressing the industry’s deforestation problem is not going to provide outcomes for Australia’s forests and bushlands or for beef businesses.

“2.2 million hectares of forests and bushlands deforested in just 5 years is not good land management. Principles alone won’t stop the bulldozers, clean up supply chains so they are deforestation-free or in fact, future-proof the industry.

“Trying to get special treatment or self-regulate to avoid any real action on deforestation isn’t convincing anyone. There is already an internationally recognised definition of deforestation, and appropriate commitments, set by the Science-Based Targets and Accountability Framework initiative. These are being used by governments, foreign markets and big beef buyers. These recognised definitions and commitments have the potential to help protect forests in Australia and solidify international market access.

“Continued market access and consumer trust relies on robust deforestation-free commitments and tangible action. The solution is within reach, but will only become a reality if the beef industry—from producers to big beef buyers—commits to genuine, science-based targets.

“Industry bodies and governments should be supporting producers to meet sustainability challenges, not adding to the confusion.”

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