A Central Queensland contractor involved in a case of illegal tree clearing has paid a fine of $7150, with the landholder expected to undertake years of rehabilitation work on the affected area.
Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) Regional Manager, Jason Riethmuller, said this case is an important reminder that it is not only landholders, but also clearing contractors who must understand their obligations under Queensland’s vegetation management laws.
“While landholders are legally responsible for any clearing that occurs on their property, vegetation management laws also apply to contractors who undertake tree clearing activities,” Mr Riethmuller said.
“In this recent case involving a grazing property near Clermont, DNRM’s investigations found that a clearing contractor had carried out illegal broadscale clearing of regulated native vegetation totalling more than 350 hectares, on behalf of the landholder.
“Although the landholder notified DNRM there would be thinning under a self-assessable vegetation clearing code, large areas were found to have been excessively thinned.
“We will be placing a rehabilitation order on the landholder, which means the area must be managed over many years to restore it to remnant status, and both the landholder and their clearing contractor were fined.
DNRM advised Beef Central that the landholder was also fined $7150 in total, plus the restoration notice that requires the areas to be managed to restore them back to remnant status.
“A Property Map of Assessable Vegetation has now been sent to the landholder to secure these areas as Category A vegetation on the Regulated Vegetation Management Map, which will restrict any future activities in this area.”
Mr Riethmuller said under Queensland’s vegetation management laws, any clearing of regulated vegetation must be authorised or approved through a clearing exemption, self-assessable vegetation clearing code, area management plan or a development approval.
“In the case of contractors, landholders are required to provide clear instructions, keep records and supervise clearing activities,” he said.
Mr Riethmuller said this case was one of a number of current investigations of alleged unauthorised clearing activities in Central Queensland.
“Queensland aims to strike a balance between enabling landowners to get on with managing their businesses by sensibly clearing appropriate vegetation, and protecting our environment,” he said.
“Our self-assessable codes enable landholders to undertake a range of vegetation management activities without needing to apply for a permit, but the rules are in place to protect valuable ecosystems and reduce sediment run-off.
“It is disappointing to see many cases of alleged unauthorised clearing still being detected. However, the department remains committed to working with landholders to help them understand their responsibilities.
“In addition to on-ground inspections, the department uses satellite technology to quickly detect changes in vegetation cover across Queensland, enabling us to make early contact with landholders if it appears they’re doing the wrong thing.
“This ensures we can contact landholders before inappropriate clearing becomes widespread, but it is important that landholders work with us and abide by the rules in place.”
If you are not sure about what you can do in regard to vegetation management you should call 135VEG (135 834) or visit the local DNRM office.
Landholders can also request to receive a vegetation management property report via email to assist them in their planning of vegetation management activities. These reports are specific to a property and contain relevant information and a series of maps outlining the requirements for clearing vegetation in the specified location.