Land clearing

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Land clearing
From: Lloyd Nielsen <>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 11:54:42 +1000
Regarding Queensland's land clearing, I whole-heartedly support a
protest as recommended having seen what is happening at first hand.

As one of a third generation farming family who left the land 20 odd
years ago, I quite understand the plight of the country people.  I also
understand their attitude though I don't agree with it.  There is no
doubt that people in the bush are experiencing very hard times but it
amazes me that substantial sums of money can always be found for land

When returning to north Queensland on three occasions last year,  I
drove through the central part of the state from the NSW border to
Cairns travelling  a different route each time mostly to get some idea
of the extent of land clearing.  Most of these areas I knew well and
were extensively covered with forest 20 odd years ago when I lived in
southern Qld.  The devastation  is truly unbelievable.  It really is a
disaster of huge proportions.  Evidence of the panic encouraged by some
radical farm leaders and opportunists were evident in some places.  In
one locality a bulldozing company had erected huge signs on the
outskirts of towns which read - Clear Your Land Now While You Still
Can.  In southern Qld, much of the land which my family regarded as
marginal agricultural land has been cleared.

Nearly all of the huge brigalow belt that once existed is already gone.
The few small ermnants are riddled with an understorey of introduced
pasture grasses, mostly the invasive African Buffel Grass (Cenchrus
ciliaris) - regarded as a valuable pasture grass by the grazing industry
but also regarded as one of Australia's 18 worst weeds.   The densely
growing African Buffel creates a huge fuel build up and burns with such
intense heat that the normally sparsely grassed brigalow cannot cope
with it, devastating the forest.   Mazepa National Park near Clermont in
central Queensland, about  6 square km of remnant brigalow forest and
now an island in a sea of agricultural land is a typical example.  It
has been heavily invaded by Buffel Grass.  Just before I was there in
November 1999, the park had had a very hot fire right through it.  There
wasn't a bird left - probably 25% of the living brigalow trees had been
burned to the ground with only lines of white ash left  (brigalow will
readily burn green).  There was not one green leaf left on the rest of
the forest.  It will never recover - being completely isolated with no
chance of recolonisation.

The protests against Premier Beattie's proposed tree clearing
legislation by the coutry community are being organised by agricultural
leaders some of whom could only be described as little more than a
radical bunch of hotheads  - just read the Queensland Country Life!
Imogen Zethoven from the Queensland Conservation Council who has been
spear-heading the movement in Queensland to introduce legislation to try
to stop this maddness quite correctly yesterday accused Agforce leaders
of deliberately stirring up anger and conflict in the bush.  As one
might expect, ex-premier Borbidge is also inflaming the situation with
his extreme brand of negativity.  Predictably,  he has vowed to recind
any tree clearing legislation which the present government introduces
'immediately after the next election'.  One can only hope that he is
greatly disappointed.

The Federal Government, especially Prime Minister Howard and Environment
Minister Hill are doing nothing more than playing politics as so well
put in the note courtesy of  Russell's posting.   In the meantime the
clearing goes on.  Premier Beattie made a statement a few days ago that
there are still 3 million hectares which are subject to clearing now
that the legislation will not be introduced.  At a conservative average
of 15 birds per hectare, that is a staggering number of birds (as well
as other wildlifr) which are doomed!  Some of these forests also support
wintering migrant birds from southern Australia.

I  really don't think that compensation would have satisfactorily solved
the problem or was the best answer in the long term although it is now
out of the question since Howard and Hill refused to support the
Queensland Government.  The country people didn't think much of
compensation either and pretty well told Premier Beattie what he can do
with his compensation.  It is a great shame that some of Howard's NHT
(Telstra) funds could not have been spent more wisely on projects such
as saving some of our remaining forests, rather than being wasted as so
much has been  - my local district is a good example!

 Probably not too many people saw the Landline  programme last Sunday -
with two contrasting stories, one on Queensland's tree clearing and the
Winton protest against the tree clearing legislation, the other on
replanting trees etc in southern Australia.   Quite a contrast!  Born
and bred in the country and still a country person at heart, I felt a
certain amount of embarrassment and shame when some of the protestors
tried to put their views forward.

The more we can pressure our political leaders through irate messages
the better!

Lloyd Nielsen
Mt Molloy,
Nth Queensland

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