The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today welcomed the Queensland government’s new bill to protect trees as a big step forwards in improving water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.
Tree clearing in the Reef catchment has led to massive soil loss and sediment pollution of inshore waters, smothering corals and seagrass meadows, home to threatened turtles and dugongs.
In 2015, the Australian and Queensland governments promised the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to introduce stronger vegetation controls to limit Reef water pollution.
Last year the World Heritage Centre advised the Committee that important legislation regulating land clearing has not yet been passed. The Centre said increased efforts were needed to ensure that all important legislation necessary to deliver the Reef 2050 Plan outcomes.
“The bill introduced today, when passed by the Parliament, will be a big step forwards in meeting a key promise made to the World Heritage Committee,” AMCS spokesperson Imogen Zethoven said.
“Over 100,000 hectares of precious forest and woodland were cleared in the Reef catchment from August 2015 to August 2016.
“The bill introduced today will protect large areas of remnant and high conservation value vegetation. It will also protect 50 metres of riparian vegetation throughout the Reef catchment.
“The bill will not stop all deforestation. AMCS will continue to call for an end to all tree clearing in the Reef catchment to turn the tide on poor water quality,” Ms Zethoven said
AMCS warmly welcomes the Queensland Government’s $500 million Land Restoration Fund to fund large-scale restoration of forests and woodlands.
AMCS also acknowledges the hard work carried out by NGOs such as The Wilderness Society, WWF-Australia and the Queensland Conservation Council in securing this big step forwards.
To arrange interviews: Ingrid Neilson 0421 972 731
For media comment: Imogen Zethoven 0431 565 495