An MCG-sized area of forest and bush is bulldozed every 86 seconds in Australia. To give life a chance, we need strong, sensible deforestation laws.

What’s a tree worth? That’s the misunderstanding driving our country’s deforestation crisis. Today, bare land is worth more than the intact ecosystems that support our lives. It’s an old colonial idea. And a bad one.

Bulldozers destroy hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest and bushland every year. It stuffs our soil and water, suffocates the Reef, kills wildlife and drains our carbon budget.

With deforestation comes extinction.

On 11/02/22 the government officially listed the koala as Endangered in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. For species like the koala, we know the biggest problem is the destruction of their forest homes.

The most recent land-clearing data from Queensland for 2020-21 reveals a dire state of affairs in this state alone with:

  • 349,399 hectares of forest and bushland was bulldozed between 2020/21;

  • 89% of the deforestation and land clearing in Queensland was to make space for pasture;

  • More than 160,000 ha was destroyed in Great Barrier Reef catchments, placing further serious stress on the natural wonder.

Over roughly the last 20 years, koala numbers have declined by almost 50% across Queensland alone. If we want to protect Australia's remarkable biodiversity, including its most iconic animals, we must protect habitat.

Deforestation in Australia has to stop. Learn more about deforestation in Queensland

Deforestation explained

Deforestation explained

Everything you need to know about the deforestation crisis taking place across Australia.

The threat to life

Without a liveable climate, the vulnerable ecosystems that sustain us, won’t. Deforestation is Australia’s hidden emitter—like adding 10 million cars to our roads.

Australia is a global deforestation front, alongside Borneo, the Amazon and the Congo. It’s primarily driven by agriculture (mostly for beef production), mining and urban development.

Check out 10 facts about deforestation in Australia

Bulldozers drag thick chains through the landscape, snapping trees like matchsticks. This wood isn’t used for anything—it’s burned or left to rot. Carbon once stored in trees and soil goes back into the atmosphere. This wastes up to 10% of Australia’s carbon budget.

5 things you need to know about Deforestation in Australia
Deforestation: 10 shocking statistics

Deforestation: 10 shocking statistics

These stats expose Australia’s hidden deforestation crisis—and will make you want to take action today to stop it in its tracks.

Koala rescued from deforestation

Why is deforestation still happening?

Historically, deforestation was considered best practice. In the 60s and 70s, agriculturalists in Queensland’s Brigalow Belt were actually fined for letting their land regenerate. This was rooted in some flawed ideas about the biology of soils and the resilience of our landscapes. It means just 50% of Australia’s forest and bushland remains—much of it degraded.

While the majority of landholders are eager to embrace new ways to look after their land, scattered rogue operators are holding us back.

“Australia’s greatest animal welfare crisis.”—RSPCA

As the only developed country with a deforestation front, it's no surprise Australia’s mammal extinction rates are the highest in the world. Even iconic native species, like the koala and the greater glider, are on the road to extinction.

In the last 20 years, Queensland’s koala population has declined by almost 50%.

On the Koala Coast, numbers are down by 80%. In New South Wales, 99% of koala habitat on private land is not protected from clearing.

There’s a simple fix—big business can choose to only source and sell products free from deforestation.

With the support of people like you, the Wilderness Society recently launched a billboard campaign highlighting deforestation rates across Queensland, and the harm this causes to wildlife.

Image: Goa

The series of billboards across Brisbane drew attention to the devastating effects that deforestation and land clearing have on wildlife across Queensland.

Photo: Catchment runoff entering the Great Barrier Reef | QLD Govt Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries

A threat to our Reef

As important catchment zones are stripped bare, the Great Barrier Reef is exposed to a deadly cocktail of silt, animal faeces and industrial fertilisers. This threatens a tourism industry worth $6 billion to Australia.

Deforestation isn’t just deadly. It’s an extreme economic liability.

Western Australia's globally unique flora is under threat

House Shed Hill at Carlton Hill Station, Miriuwung Gajerrong Country.

Western Australia's forests, woodlands and outback native vegetation play a critical role in preserving biodiversity, providing a home for threatened species and storing huge quantities of carbon. Read our WA native vegetation report detailing 7 ways to protect WA's most valuable natural asset.

NSW forest: Stop the chop

Oakes State Forest which is set to be logged. Image: Krystle Wright.

Almost two-thirds of NSW native forests burned during the Black Summer Bushfires, devastating huge swathes of threatened species habitat. Despite a range of reports recommending the urgent protection of unburnt patches to limit species decline, the NSW government continues to allow industrial logging at a rate of around 14,000 hectares per year—even in “extreme risk” areas!

While there is increasing community support for the protection of forests, NSW laws explicitly reduce the right of communities to have a say about what happens to the state’s forests.

Communities need a real voice in environmental decision-making to have an effective say on the future of NSW forests.

Our vision

If we want to protect our climate, and the ecosystems that make our lives possible, there’s no role for deforestation in Australia’s future.

In the climate crisis, there’s economic opportunity for landholders. By incentivising them to rehabilitate bulldozed land, we can make our soils, wildlife and landscapes more resilient to climate change. We can even reverse our emissions in the process.

That’s life support in action.

What we’re doing:

  • Calling on big business to source and sell products free from deforestation.
  • Advocating for new laws that support the life our lives depend on.
  • Building a case for rehabilitation funding as a climate solution.
  • Undertaking research to blow the lid off this hidden crisis.
  • Monitoring satellite imagery and recording suspicious clearing.
  • Organising a grassroots national movement for lasting change.
  • Educating Australians on the benefits of intact ecosystems.
Watch on Nature

Watch on Nature

We're uncovering deforestation as it happens using the latest satellite imagery.