Media Releases - 16 December 2022

Large-scale deforestation and land clearing crisis unraveling in Queensland

Land clearing in Queensland.

Business as usual failing Queensland’s forests and bushlands

Queensland’s latest deforestation and land clearing figures show a continuing environmental crisis unfolding across the Australian state that bulldozes more forest and bushland than all others every year.

The Queensland Government’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) figures released today reveals:

  • 418,656 hectares of forest and bushland was bulldozed between 2019/20;

  • 85% of the deforestation and land clearing in Queensland was to make space for pasture;

  • More than 180,000 ha was destroyed in Great Barrier Reef catchments, placing further serious stress on the natural wonder.

Hannah Schuch, Queensland Campaign Manager at the Wilderness Society said, “Australia is a deforestation hotspot and it’s clear that Queensland, sadly, is driving the destruction, putting threatened species on a fast track to extinction.

“Bulldozing Queensland’s forests and bushlands kills koalas, trashes rivers, smothers the Great Barrier Reef and contributes to dangerous climate change.

“Deforestation and land clearing is seriously threatening nature and the climate but the state government is using 3-year-old data to monitor this crisis. Not to mention releasing the figures on a Friday afternoon, when people are already logging off for the year. No government would dare to release important economic data like this, late and with an unscheduled release.”

Corporates and governments share a responsibility to take serious action on deforestation and land clearing

An analysis on previous years’ SLATS data shows that almost three-quarters (73%) of clearing for pasture is likely to be for beef production.

“Corporations have a social and financial responsibility to remove deforestation from their supply chains,” says Hannah Schuch. “There is growing demand, internationally and domestically, for deforestation-free beef so retailers should be ahead of the pack with strong commitments fit for Australia’s diverse ecosystems and actually acting on them.

“The Albanese Government was elected with a commitment to restore community trust to environmental decision-making. Well, that looks like strong national environment laws that: end the clearing of threatened species habitat, ensure public participation in decision-making, and are informed by up-to-date national land clearing and deforestation data.

“Closer to home, Premier Palaszczuk has committed to ending excessive land clearing in Queensland but the Vegetation Management laws are still riddled with loopholes big enough for bulldozers to drive through.”

Australia has signed onto the Glasgow commitment to end deforestation by 2030 and only last week, Minister Plibersek announced the government’s response to the Samuel Review of the nation’s environment law, the EPBC Act. Australia also has commitments to protect the Great Barrier Reef and climate from the impacts of deforestation.

The Wilderness Society has joined with Queensland Conservation Council, WWF-Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation to form the Queensland Forests Alliance with a bold vision to protect Queensland’s forests and bushlands and reverse deforestation.


Hannah Schuch, The Wilderness Society, Queensland Campaign Manager:

0434 796 566 or [email protected]