Higher carbon emissions, greater erosion, less sustainable agriculture and the creation of vast ‘mulga deserts’ throughout central Australia will be the inevitable result of Federal Labor’s introduction of Queensland-style vegetation management legislation nationally.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said that, far from its noble intention to protect the environment, Labor’s Greens-inspired legislation would create adverse environmental outcomes across the country.
The ‘mulga desert’ is one example; the hardy desert shrub, left unmanaged by landowners, creates sterile, impenetrable tangles that reduce biodiversity, limit carbon sequestration in the landscape, prevent the growth of erosion-preventing ground covers and make sustainable agriculture in outback Australia all but impossible.
“The reason for this is that the Queensland Government’s one-size-fits-all Vegetation Management Act (VMA) fails to consider the unique needs of the 13 distinct bioregions identified by its own Environment Department,” Michael said.
“Their approach, driven by Greens-inspired dogma rather than science, means that at least 12 bioregions, of which ‘Mulga Country’ is one, will be adversely affected.
“These flawed and inflexible laws are the reason AgForce is calling on both sides of politics to ensure environmental protection legislation is based on science and practical techniques that have worked for millennia.
“Farmers who ‘live their land’ and are intimately familiar with its unique character will deliver the best environmental outcomes – not ideologically driven greenies who rarely leave the city.”
Michael today visited Charleville, in the heart of mulga country, to talk with AgForce members Cameron and Jacqui Tickell about the issues they were experiencing in trying to manage vegetation on their property in compliance with the VMA.
“Managing mulga, as it was by Indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years, is critical to ensuring a healthy environment that supports biodiversity,” Jacqui said.
“Mulga must be proactively managed to ensure a balanced mix of vegetation, including the native grasses that are essential for grazing, help to conserve water, sequester carbon and prevent soil erosion.
“Pushing mulga – selectively ‘squashing’ mature mulga trees into the ground to open the landscape, encourage native grasses, provide habitat for native animals, improve mulga regrowth and increase carbon sequestration – is all but impossible under the current VMA.
“Mulga is the ultimate sustainable cattle fodder: native, drought-resilient, and completely renewable.
“Currently under the VMA, only small areas can be harvested at a time, and only after an onerous application process.”
The Tickells demonstrated the benefits of effective mulga management, showing Michael and key journalists the open, balanced vegetation in an area of mulga that was pushed ten years earlier under a different VMA.
“The current problem we are seeing is extensive thickening of vegetation,” Cameron said.
“Locking up large areas of Queensland is effectively creating a dead landscape. The environment does need managing to ensure biodiversity within all bioregions.
“Our only hope in terms of passing this property on to our kids as a going concern lies in the State Government seeing sense and changing these infuriating and unfair laws.
“Unfortunately, this appears unlikely.
“Most producers aren’t even sure what they can and can’t do to manage woody vegetation on their land, as legislation has changed so often – 40 times over the past 20 years.
“The reality is, though, that it is a really expensive way to encourage mediocrity, measured by minimum compliance, rather than supporting innovation and best practice management that most producers are adopting voluntarily.
“It fails to recognise, let alone reward, farmers for conserving the landscape and reducing atmospheric carbon, but imposes punitive penalties for non-compliance even when the environment benefits.”
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