That dreaded land clearing again

Below is another Greenie lament about land clearing. Most of the world lives on land that has been cleared of its native vegetation but that precedent cuts no ice with Greenies. I said a lot more about that issue last month so will not pursue it again

The rant below is totally one-eyed, as we have come to expect.  Their basic objection to clearing is species loss and water pollution.  And their only response to those problems, if they are problems,  is "Stop everything".  The authors are senior academics but you would never guess it.  It is all just hand-waving, with nothing scholarly about it.

A scholarly article would do a survey of the major species, research how many there are, give some argument for why they are important and study how many are needed to maintain a viable population.

Why do that?  Because there are conflicting claims on land use.  One side cannot have it all to themselves, though Greenies would clearly like to.  In the Anglosphere, conflicting claims are customarily resolved by compromise.  Arrangements are worked out that allow both sides to get what is most important to them.

And what is most important to Greenies is clear enough:  Species preservation.  So we need to know just how much land is needed for species preservation and how much can be released for food production.  So if we took the scholarly steps above, a compromise suitable to both sides should be possible.  But a mature response like that is beyond Greenies.  Their only policy is "winner take all", with themselves as the winner.

That rightly causes others to dig their heels in and the Greenies may in the end get very little of what they want -- probably less than they could have got via compromise.

And they are far too myopic to see what has been happening in the last couple of years.  When a conservative Queensland government lifted a whole lot of Leftist restrictions on land use, landowners went for broke.  They have busily been clearing as much land as they can before restrictions hit them again.  Much land may have been cleared that need not have been cleared if more moderate land use restrictions had been probable.

Just some excerpts below as it is all so brainless and predictable

Land clearing has returned to Queensland in a big way. After we expressed concern that policy changes since 2012 would lead to a resurgence in clearing of native vegetation, this outcome was confirmed by government figures released late last year.

It is now clear that land clearing is accelerating in Queensland. The new data confirm that 296,000 hectares of bushland was cleared in 2013-14 – three times as much as in 2008-09 – mainly for conversion to pastures. These losses do not include the well-publicised clearing permitted by the government of nearly 900 square kilometres at two properties, Olive Vale and Strathmore, which commenced in 2015.
The increases in land clearing are across the board. They include losses of over 100,000 hectares of old-growth habitats, as well as the destruction of “high-value regrowth” – the advanced regeneration of endangered ecosystems.

These ecosystems have already been reduced to less than 10% of their original extent, and their recovery relies on allowing this regrowth to mature.

Alarmingly, our analysis of where the recent clearing has occurred reveals that even “of concern” and “endangered” remnant ecosystems are being lost at much higher rates now than before.

While this level of vegetation loss and damage continues apace, Australia’s environmental programs will fall well short of achieving their aims.

Land clearing affects all Australians, not just Queenslanders. Australia spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year trying to redress past environmental damage from land clearing. Tens of thousands of volunteers dedicate their time, money and land to the effort.

But despite undeniable local benefits of such programs, their contribution to national environmental goals is undone, sometimes many times over, by the damage being done in Queensland.

Species cannot recover if their habitat is being destroyed faster than it is being restored. But under Caring for our Country and Biodiversity Fund grants, the extent of tree planting to restore habitat across Australia reported since 2013 is just over 42,000 hectares - an order of magnitude less than what was cleared in Queensland alone in just two years.

And it will be many decades before these new plantings will provide anything like the environmental benefits of mature native vegetation.

Land clearing between 2012 and 2014 in Queensland is estimated to have wiped out more than 40,000 hectares of koala habitat, as well as habitat for over 200 other threatened species. Clearing, along with drought (which is also made worse by clearing), is the major cause of an 50% decline in koalas of  south-west and central Queensland since 1996.

The loss of remnant habitat, especially from forests along waterways, means more habitat fragmentation. This is a further threat to many species of wildlife, and it hampers our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

The current Palaszczuk government in Queensland has repeated its election promise to re-strengthen native vegetation protections. The amendment bill is due to be introduced to parliament within weeks.

But the minority government relies on the votes of cross-benchers to pass its legislation–so for now, the future of some of Australia’s most precious environmental assets remains uncertain.


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