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WWF rejects claims it is refusing to engage with farmers

Beef Central, 05/10/2015

The World Wildlife Fund has rejected claims it is refusing to engage with farmers to develop an agreed path forward on vegetation management in Queensland.

Queensland’s peak broadacre farming group AgForce last week said green groups were refusing to negotiate with farmers, and suggested the groups believed they had senior Queensland Labor Ministers in their pocket and did not need to engage with farmers to achieve the outcomes they are seeking.

AgForce said good outcomes for both agriculture and the environment hinged on ensuring that vegetation management legislation is based on science and evidence, and relied on all sides working together to find a solution. (See earlier report here)

However WWF spokesman Dr Martin Taylor told Beef Central that the group has at no time refused to engage in roundtable discussions around a way forward to implement the Queensland Government’s commitments on land clearing.

“We attended the same consultation forum Agforce did in July,” Dr Taylor said.

“Two Agforce reps were also there, so the accusation that we are somehow refusing involvement in the consultative process is baseless and unfounded and has us completely stumped because everyone at the table knows it’s not true.

“Every opportunity we have been given to talk turkey on land clearing we have entered into in good faith, in a spirit of compromise, in an effort to find solutions that are best both for Queensland’s incomparable wildlife and natural areas and for ecological sustainability in agriculture.”

Dr Taylor said WWF was “a vocal and proud supporter of sustainable agriculture” and sought to protect native vegetation for good reason – that was that Australia has the highest extinction rate in the world for mammals over the last 200 years.

He said the WWF welcomed the opportunity given by the Queensland government to develop a long term solution to vegetation management and attended the first consultation roundtable in July, along with AgForce.

“Going forward we must provide protection of our state’s biodiversity assets and allow for economically viable beef production – stated goals of both AgForce and WWF,” he said.

“Only then can we avoid having the rules rewritten each time the government changes.

“The resulting uncertainty causes angst among rural landholders and Queenslanders in general and leads to panic clearing.”

He also rejected suggestions from AgForce that WWF had accused an Augathella land owner of “illegal” clearing.

“We raised the clearing as an example of how controls on land clearing had been diluted to the point that thousands of hectares of remnant bushland including endangered ecosystems could be broadscale cleared leaving just a fraction of the original tree cover behind, under the guise of “thinning”.

“WWF strongly believes it should have been protected.”

AgForce says Queensland landholders are looking for certainty for long-term management and investment decisions, and want to ensure that future vegetation management laws align with available evidence

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Comments

  1. Michael Roberts, 06/10/2015

    Attending a round table discussion organised by the government is not engaging with farmers.

  2. Joanne Rea, 06/10/2015

    Dr. Martin Taylor has rejected claims that WWF accused an Augathella landowner of “illegal” clearing. Illegal clearing was certainly the implication of WWF’s press releases in the widely reported urban media whose readership would have little understanding of the minutiae of vegetation law. In a media release Dr. Taylor claimed of one section that “It’s brigalow-blackbutt forest and it has all been cleared”. This is a clear accusation of illegal clearing and quite inaccurate. It also claimed that the country had been “flattened” when the landowner had a thinning permit. Subsequent investigations found him to be legally compliant.
    WWF had real time satellite images. They also had research aircraft and urged the State Government to investigate the landowner, an investigation which exonerated him.
    WWF has also published what it calls its “map of shame” which has a list of names, addresses and GPS points of holders of, and applicants for clearing permits for high value agriculture.
    Its published report also calls for reversal of the onus of proof to be reintroduced so that instead of being innocent until proven guilty, one of the basic foundations of our legal system, a landowner must prove his innocence.

  3. Bruce Collins, 06/10/2015

    What WWF refuses to recognise is that fire susceptible species, such as gidyea and mulga have encroached on grassland over the past one hundred plus years. They impact heavily on production and profitability and government legislation should facilitate the cost effective management of such species, not the reverse.

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