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