News ID: 169441
Published: 0241 GMT September 28, 2016

Lack of tree clearing reforms a roadblock to saving Great Barrier Reef

Lack of tree clearing reforms a roadblock to saving Great Barrier Reef

The failure of tree clearing reforms in Queensland is the only significant delay in Australia’s conservation plan for the Great Barrier Reef, said a progress report by the state and federal governments.

But the Queensland environment minister, Steven Miles, has declared the roadblock on a huge reform for the reef — coupled with a historic bleaching event that killed nearly a quarter of its coral — may lead UNESCO to reconsider an in danger listing, the Guardian wrote.

The report, released ahead of Australia’s formal update to UNESCO in December, originally listed legislative changes to protect remnant and high value regrowth native vegetation as on track/under way.

It has been revised to include a note that ‘amendments to the Vegetation Management Act 1999 failed to pass in the Queensland parliament’ and that ‘the status of this action will be reflected in future status reports as significantly delayed’.

The Labor government is lobbying UNESCO for more time to pass laws to stop broadscale clearing — a source of both carbon emissions and runoff pollution to the reef — vowing to campaign for re-election on the issue.

Miles said the main game for state Labor was winning the next election and getting the clearing laws past the Liberal National party and crossbenchers who voted them down.

“At the end of the day the failure of Queensland and Australia to implement this component of the plan rests with the Queensland LNP,” Miles said.

That failure, “combined with the bleaching event, I think gives justification for the NGOs to be out there campaigning, and for countries to start expressing concern”.

“This is the start of the ramifications that we said would come and we’ll do our best to try and keep a lid on it and that’s why Jackie [Trad, the deputy premier] was there in Paris [meeting UNESCO officials this week,” Miles said.

“But we said this would happen. [The LNP] said it wouldn’t. Now it’s happening.”


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