Joint Media ReleaseBrisbane Region Environment Council (BREC), Toowoomba Region Environment Council (TREC), Sunshine Coast Conservation Council (SCEC), Gecko - Gold Coast & Hinterlands Environment Council
13th February 2004
Regional Conservation Councils Call for the Protection of Bushland in SEQ
South East Queensland regional conservation groups are beginning a new and major campaign focussing on the rapid loss of coastal bushland in urban and hinterland areas.
The State Government's welcome announcement to end rural broadscale clearing unfortunately fails to protect bushlands in South East Queensland (SEQ) and other coastal areas. The broad public support for clearing controls evidenced last Saturday gives the government a mandate to fix the other half of the problem namely, broad and local scale urban and hinterland clearing.
In the cabinet endorsed SEQ Nature Conservation Strategy the government committed to protecting State and Regionally significant bushland in the region. This strategy identified that most of the bushland in SEQ is of State and Regional significance.
We are calling on the government to modify the Integrated Planning Act and the Vegetation Management act to protect urban and hinterland bushlands. The so called "urban exemptions" under the Qld Vegetation Management Act and the Integrated Planning Act leaves at least 33,000 ha of significant bushland at risk throughout SEQ.
Local governments have limited capacity for revenue raising to buy back or down zone land. They have limited planning tools and so cannot fully achieve long term secure protection without State financial and legal support
The State government should investigate additional revenue options and joint funding arrangements with local governments and water corporations for the mapping, assessment, acquisition, protection, restoration and management of significant bushlands. The financial arrangements should cover not just acquisition costs but also provide for ongoing financial assistance for revegetation and management of bushlands on private land.
Other parts of the world, such as the city of New York, have found ways to raise the necessary money and it is working.
BREC,TREC, SCEC & Gecko believe that at least an extra $280 million would need to be spent over the next 10-15 years to reverse the decline in regional bushlands and waterways in SEQ. This includes $130 million estimated for waterways restoration and an estimated $150 million for extra bushland planning, acquisition and management in SEQ. The floodplain restoration costs have yet to be estimated, although they would also be significant.
The Regional Conservation Councils look forward to a constructive approach by the Premier, who has a strong mandate, rather than another long and bitter fight. To delay in protecting these bushlands will leave a massive legacy of environmental damage for the next generation, who will pay the price with less nature, lower air, food and water quality and far less quality of life.
For more information Michael Petter - BREC 07 39015577
Sarah Moles - TREC 07 46321505
Sheila Davies - Gecko 07 55341142 or 0413 1233679
Lindsay Holt - SCEC 07 5441 5747