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Beef industry could struggle to achieve net zero by 2030 if Queensland keeps clearing land

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Whereas most had been on Christmas holidays in late 2021, the Queensland authorities quietly launched its newest Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) on December 29.

It discovered that 549,844 hectares of “woody vegetation” had been cleared between 2018 and 2019, a big enhance on the previous report which cited 392,000 hectares

However, relying on which media launch you learn first, you can be forgiven for considering there will need to have been two completely different reviews.

“Producers counseled for sustainable land administration practices following new vegetation report,” thundered the headline by Queensland peak farming body AgForce.

“Deforestation doubles in Queensland in response to new knowledge,” the Queensland Conservation Council cried.

With consideration, each side would possibly technically be proper, however the precise information had been extra advanced.

“The fascinating factor is that [in] Australia, web forest elevated by greater than Europe and the USA mixed between 2010 and 2020, and that is within the nationwide carbon accounts,” AgForce cattle board director and chairman of the Sustainability Steering Group for the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework Mark Davie mentioned.

The 2016 State of the Surroundings report did report a 1.6 million hectare increase in net forest cover between 2005 and 2012.

Has forest cowl elevated or not?

However how a forest is outlined in Australia just isn’t the identical as in different international locations, and forest cowl naturally fluctuates relying on the local weather, so features aren’t at all times long run.

Ecologist Dr Don Butler spent many years working for the Queensland authorities mapping vegetation and ecosystems.

He mentioned suggesting forest cowl was growing was “a little bit of a misrepresentation”.

“It is troublesome utilizing simply satellite tv for pc info to inform whether or not it is a flush of low shrubbery or really woody vegetation that’s greater than two metres tall,” Dr Butler mentioned.

“There isn’t any manner that younger regrowth, even when there’s sufficient of it to sort of greater than match the lack of mature vegetation, is equal to mature native vegetation.

A man sits at a computer.
Ecologist Dr Butler spent many years working for the Queensland authorities mapping vegetation and ecosystems.(ABC Information: Michael Nudl)

The massive consideration this 12 months for the SLATS report in Queensland is that the info was gathered utilizing larger decision satellite tv for pc imagery, recording extra panorama adjustments than earlier than.

So evaluating this 12 months’s report with final 12 months’s report is not like-for-like.