AgForce is ‘deeply concerned’ that there are still large areas of farming land being wrongly targeted by the State Government’s trigger or ‘blue dot’ protected vegetation mapping despite no evidence that rare or threatened plant species are growing there.
This is despite the Government issuing an ‘upgrade’ to the initial release which reduced the ‘protected’ area by 36 per cent following sustained pressure from AgForce and its members.
AgForce conveyed its serious concerns about the vegetation mapping, as well as the anger and despair of producers including Bruce Wagner, at meetings held this week with the Department of Environment and Science (DES), and the Queensland Herbarium, and were not confident that the concerns of producers were being responded to.
The meetings were the result of an earlier commitment by the Minister for Environment, Great Barrier Reef, Science and Arts to more fully engage with Queensland’s primary producers following the calamitous way version 7.0 of the mapping was introduced.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said that despite the Minister’s commitment to engage in conversation on the matter, it was clear the Government’s vegetation mapping remained seriously flawed in its proposed intent to support Endangered, Vulnerable and Near Threatened (EVNT) plant species.
“If we take the conversation out the offices and from behind the computer screens, the reality on the ground is that many producers’ land is still being incorrectly targeted,” Mr Guerin said.
“The updated release was a start, but it was done so quickly – 36 per cent of the most obvious errors removed almost overnight – that it’s impossible for anyone to trust the validity of the supporting science.
“Queensland landholders need assurances. They need to have confidence that the information being provided to them is accurate. They can’t afford to wear the mistakes made by Government’s sloppy mapping.
“Many of the producers I’ve spoken to are now unwilling to farm their own land for fear of doing the wrong thing and incurring a penalty of up to $400,000.”
Mr Guerin said he recently joined around 100 producers at a field day organised by fourth generation beef producer Jim Becker on his 7,500-acre property at Banana in central Queensland.
“The irony is, those producers came together to discuss how they could save and propagate a rare flowering plant discovered near Jim’s property on the verge of the Burnett Highway,” he said.
“The plant isn’t even on Jim’s land, but the blue dot where the plant is located falls on top of his property.
“That means there are now restrictions on the management of the land beneath that blue dot, regardless of where the plant is.
“That’s just one example. There are hundreds of others from our members right across the State.
“That’s why this isn’t the end of the conversation. Anyone who relies on the food and fibres produced in Queensland to feed and clothe themselves can’t afford to walk away from this one.”
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