News - 12 July 2023

Taste of things to come: Australia’s terrible deforestation record impacting EU trade discussions

  • To reverse the deforestation crisis Australian beef producers must rise to meet new EU deforestation regulations

  • To ensure producers doing the right thing aren’t excluded from growing markets, the Australian beef industry will need to keep up with international sustainability policies

  • Deforestation is a rogue practice and should be the easiest standard to meet

  • The federal government must consider Australia's environment as in the national interest in EU trade deal discussions

The Wilderness Society responds to Tony Mahar’s, CEO of the National Farmers Federation, comments as published on 11 July 2023.

The following quotes are attributed to Hannah Schuch, Queensland Campaigns Manager for the Wilderness Society:

“Over 400,000 hectares of forests and bush is deforested and cleared each year in Queensland alone. The new EU laws is the market signalling that business as usual isn’t good enough.

“Agriculture lobby groups can try to be King Canute and hold back the tide of higher global environmental standards but it won’t work. The only way to shield Australian producers from tougher new rules is to rise to meet them. Stopping the bulldozers from destroying Australian habitat should be the easiest standard to meet, especially when it’s such a small minority of farmers doing the damage.

“There is no possible carve out from the first phase of EU deforestation laws for Australian farmers. Every piece of beef sold into Europe needs to include the coordinates of the property that the cattle was raised on, without exception. The next step is European satellite surveillance to see if any of those locations were recently cleared forests.

“In our discussions with EU officials, they have dismissed the prospect of a wealthy nation like Australia arguing it’s too complex to carry out traceability work when they expect nations like Australia to step up and do this.

“It’s clear that deforestation and biodiversity risk is already and will continue to shape market access and Australia’s track record on deforestation is an issue.

Analysis by the Wilderness Society of the last Queensland SLATS report (2019-20), found that 87% of land parcels linked to beef in Queensland were deforestation free in that reporting period. That’s 47,243 land parcels linked to beef that did not clear any forest* in that reporting period.

Only 171 beef land parcels are responsible for more than 50% of the deforestation in Qld - that's less than 0.3% of beef land parcels.

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

*using the Kyoto definition of forest (20% cc, 2m)