Media Releases - 30 December 2021

Latest shocking Queensland deforestation figures demand urgent action from business & industry

  • Latest Queensland government figures show over 668,000 hectares of forest and bushland destroyed in just one year - 32% (217,419 ha) of which was in Great Barrier Reef catchments;

  • Despite Queensland government introducing stronger controls in 2018, deforestation and land clearing continues at a globally significant scale;

  • Government data shows about 93% of the deforestation and land clearing is for pasture conversion.

Queensland’s latest shocking 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 shows that 680,688 hectares of forest and bushland was bulldozed between 2018-2019.

More than 217,000 ha was destroyed in Great Barrier Reef catchments, placing further serious stress on the ailing natural wonder.

“While the state government strengthened its deforestation laws in 2018, deforestation and land clearing is clearly continuing at a globally significant rate,” said Dr Anita Cosgrove, Queensland Campaign Manager at the Wilderness Society. “This is disastrous for the environment—land clearing is a threatening process for many of Australia’s threatened plants and wildlife.”

The large majority of the destruction—a whopping 93%—was to make way for pasture to support livestock. An analysis of previous years’ data indicates that almost three-quarters of this is likely to be for beef production.

“The beef industry must show leadership and urgently change its practices, from producers through to retailers, such as supermarkets and fast food restaurants.”

“Australia is a global deforestation hotspot, alongside places like the Amazon and Indonesia. Nationally, we are bulldozing around an MCG-sized area of forest and bushland every 86 seconds, most of which is being cleared in Queensland.”

“At the Glasgow Climate COP in November, Australia was one of 124 countries that recently signed onto a global commitment to end deforestation by 2030. Yet, both our state and national environment laws remain weak and ineffective as these shocking figures prove.”

“Australia has international commitments to protect the Reef and climate from the impacts of deforestation, and corporations have a social and financial responsibility to remove deforestation from their beef supply chains.”

Updated 13 Jan: note figure was updated from 680, 688 to over 668, 000 to remove hectares attributed to plantation forestry.