Media Releases - 11 May 2023
Majority of land cleared for beef in Queensland linked to vital threatened species habitat
A shocking new analysis of Queensland’s latest Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) has revealed that at least 66% of the state’s total land clearing in known or likely threatened species habitat during the 2019-2020 period was linked to beef production.
The Queensland government’s most recent land clearing and deforestation figures, quietly published at the end of 2022, have provided the most up to date insight into the impact of beef production on Queensland’s native forests and bushland currently available.
According to the Wilderness Society’s analysis, 342 federally listed threatened species were known or likely to live in areas that were impacted by beef-driven land clearing—28 of those were critically endangered.
Included among these threatened species is the east coast koala population, which was uplisted from vulnerable to endangered in February last year. The analysis found that 147,575 hectares of land clearing activity in Queensland within mapped known and likely koala habitat was linked to beef
The analysis, conducted by The Wilderness Society, paints a bleak picture in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. Queensland is the most species rich state on the continent but out-of-control land clearing and deforestation is having a significant impact on nature, putting at-risk species like the koala on the fast track to extinction.
In light of growing demand, internationally and domestically, for deforestation-free beef, Queensland’s big beef buyers like supermarkets and fast food chains should be ahead of the pack with strong deforestation-free commitments and implementation. Corporations have a social and financial responsibility to remove deforestation from their supply chains.
Likewise there are gaping legislative loopholes that allow for the destruction of Queensland’s forests and bushlands, despite commitments by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to end excessive land clearing. In 2022, the Queensland government formed an independent Native Vegetation Scientific Expert Panel to review land clearing and identify solutions. Their report, due late last year, has yet to be released.
Hannah Schuch, Queensland Campaigns Manager for the Wilderness Society, said, “The science is clear: this deforestation and land clearing free-for-all is a serious problem for nature. In Queensland we share our home with native plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, from gliders to cassowaries, who rely on healthy forests and bushlands to survive.
“Corporations and governments can reverse the destruction. Unless corporations commit to and implement deforestation-free policies and government’s close loopholes and invest in incentives for landholders to manage the land in ways that work for nature and their businesses, we’re going to continue to see swathes of Queensland’s forests and bushland bulldozed for beef.
“Aussies have a right to know if their burgers and snags are coming from deforestation. Many producers are managing the land in a way that protects nature, while also improving the future productivity of their land. We’d like to see those sustainable farming practices urgently adopted and required by the whole industry.
The Wilderness Society has joined with the Queensland Conservation Council, WWF-Australia and Australian Conservation Foundation to form the Queensland Forest Alliance with a bold vision to protect Queensland’s forests and bushlands and reverse deforestation.
The Statewide Landcover and Trees Study from the 2019-2020 reporting period showed 418,656 hectares of land was impacted by deforestation and land clearing. Of which, 85% of land clearing activity was for pasture. Further analysis shows:
At least 66% of land clearing in Queensland between 2019-2020 was linked to beef (263,641 ha).
At least 85% of land clearing activity in Great Barrier Reef catchment from 2019-2020 was linked to beef.
Over the last five years (2015-2020) a total of 2,137,284 hectares of mapped known or likely threatened species habitat was within areas impacted by clearing activity. At least 66% (1.409,108 ha) of that is linked to beef.
During 2019-2020, 261,970 hectares (66%) of land clearing activity in Queensland within mapped known and likely threatened species habitat was linked to beef.
During 2019-2020, 342 threatened species had habitat mapped in areas that were impacted by clearing activities linked to beef - 28 of those were critically endangered.
In the last reporting period (2019-2020) 147,575 hectares of land clearing activity in Queensland within mapped known and likely koala habitat was linked to beef. Of that, 55% was regrowth older than 15 years or remnant (80,631 ha).
Over the last five years (2015-2020), 920,969 hectares of mapped known or likely to occur koala habitat in Queensland was within areas has been impacted by land clearing activity.
For interviews with Hannah Schuch, Queensland Campaigns Manager, please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, Media Adviser for The Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760