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A Clear Case for Regrowth

By Melissa Bruton and Clive McAlpine

Despite evidence that regrowth vegetation has equivalent habitat value to intact vegetation, Queensland has amended legislation protecting high-value bioregions from clearing.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Last year the Queensland Government introduced legislation that removed protection for several categories of regrowth vegetation. Previously, regrowth that had not been cleared since 1989, and occurred in ecosystems with less than 30% of their original extent remaining, was protected from most clearing activities.

This protection has now been removed. WWF has calculated that, as a result of these changes, 700,000 ha of previously protected high-value regrowth can now be cleared for “high-value agriculture” in Queensland. Many claim these changes represent a significant blow to biodiversity and ecosystem restoration in Queensland.

Why were these regrowth protections set up in the first place? At the end of the 20th century, vegetation in Queensland and New South Wales was cleared at rates similar to the rainforests of Brazil. Clearing was so effective that, by the turn of the 21st century, 45% of Queensland’s regional ecosystems were reduced to less than 30% of their original extent – a level that puts those ecosystems at risk of losing biodiversity and function.

In 2004, Queensland enacted new vegetation laws that significantly reduced the rates of clearing. The belief at the time was that the only way to increase the extent of these threatened ecosystems was to protect regrowth and allow it to mature.

The most heavily cleared areas of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.