Managing the winds of change
Environmental impacts caused during Australia's comparatively recent settlement by Europeans are
evident. Governments (both Commonwealth and States) have been largely responsible for requiring
landholders – through leasehold development conditions and taxation concessions – to conduct
clearing that is now perceived as damage. Most governments are now demanding resource
protection. There is a measure of bewilderment (if not resentment) among landholders because of
The more populous States, where most overall damage has been done (i.e. Victoria and New South
Wales), provide most support for attempts to stop development in other regions where there has
been less damage. Queensland, i.e. the north-eastern quarter of the continent, has been relatively
slow to develop. It also holds the largest and most diverse natural environments.
Tree clearing is an unavoidable element of land development, whether to access and enhance native
grasses for livestock or to allow for urban developments (with exotic tree plantings). The
consequences in terms of regulations are particularly complex because of the dynamic nature of
vegetation. The regulatory terms used in current legislation – such as 'Endangered' and 'Of concern' –
depend on legally-defined, static baselines. Regrowth and fire damage are two obvious causes of
change. A less obvious aspect is succession, where ecosystems change naturally over long timeframes.
In the recent past, the Queensland Government encouraged extensive tree-clearing e.g. through the
State Brigalow Development Scheme (mostly 1962 to 1975) which resulted in the removal of some
97% of the wide-ranging mature forests of Acacia harpophylla. At the same time, this government
controls National Parks and other reservations (occupying some 4% of the State's 1.7 million km2
area) and also holds major World Heritage Areas (such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet
Tropics Rainforest) promulgated under Commonwealth legislation. This is a highly prescriptive
approach, where the community is directed on the one hand to develop (largely through lease
conditions) and on the other to avoid development (largely by unusable reserves).
Another approach to development and conservation is still possible in Queensland. For this to occur,
however, a more workable and equitable solution than has been employed to date is needed,
especially for the remote lands of this State. This must involve resident landholders, who have the
capacity (through local knowledge, infrastructure and daily presence) to undertake most costeffectively
sustainable land-use management (with suitable attention to ecosystems requiring special
conservation effort), that is, provided they have the necessary direction, encouragement and
incentive to do so.
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|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Keywords:||sustainable land use management, tree clearing, private landowners landholders, Queensland|
|Subjects:||Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200) > Environmental Management (050205)|
|Divisions:||Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources|
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright 2009 Queensland Environmental Law Association|
|Deposited On:||25 Jun 2010 10:04|
|Last Modified:||11 Aug 2011 01:13|
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