Australian cattle industry linked to destruction of endangered species forests
Dr Martin Taylor, a deforestation expert who previously worked for WWF, built a model that scanned beef properties across the state for possible deforestation between May 2018, when deforestation restrictions were introduced, and August 2021. Satellite imagery of these areas was then manually inspected by Taylor and experts from the Wilderness Society to exclude false positives.
Queensland’s vast scale – the state is more than seven times the size of the UK – means that a full study of all the properties of beef has not been possible. Instead, analysts conducted a quick and limited search looking for sizable areas of deforestation of forest on beef ranches that were over 15 years old. This means that the survey likely underestimates the severity of deforestation in the region.
The study revealed more than 13,500 ha of deforestation, in 57 different properties which are listed in the state land register as being used for raising, fattening or grazing livestock.
More than half of the cleared area – 56% of the total, and spanning 54 cattle properties – has been class by the Australian government as “likely” habitat for endangered species.
Australia classifies land as “likely to exist” habitat for an endangered species if it is suitable or preferred habitat for the animal and at an “ecologically reasonable” distance from areas where it is found. knows the animal is alive.
Gemma Plesman, Queensland campaign manager for the Wilderness Society, said: “These data are not surprising as Australia is a deforestation hotspot with places like the Amazon. In the state that clears the most forest and bush – Queensland – the state’s own data shows that the majority of deforestation is destined for the beef industry.
“Millions of native animals, including the iconic Australian koala, are killed or left homeless when bulldozers destroy their habitat.
Conservation experts said Earthen that the results were concerning, especially since Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world.
Professor Brendan Wintle, conservation ecologist at the University of Melbourne, told Unearthed that “any clearing” of land was “important”, especially when it had been identified as potential habitat for endangered species. He added: “We cannot afford to lose this amount of land as we see species decline at the rate that they are declining in Australia. “
Wintle described the analysis as “just another piece of evidence that points to a really disturbing trend.”
He added, “There are ways to grow beef that don’t destroy the environment. Large-scale land clearing is just plain lazy… you don’t have to clear up habitats and drive species to extinction to get your food.
Dr April Reside, senior lecturer in wildlife science at the University of Queensland, said the level of land clearing identified by the study was “really substantial”, warning that deforestation could fragment and degrade habitats species, leaving them exposed to invasive species.
Among the 65 species that lost their potential habitat was the southern black-throated finch, an endangered bird that was losing 364 ha.
Dr Reside said: “This is definitely something to be concerned about… they have already lost 88% of their original extent. They therefore have a very small proportion of habitat left, and what they have left is very degraded and does not concern the conservation of finches. And it’s still being cleaned up.
The analysis also identified 5,079 ha of land clearing in the watersheds of the Great Barrier Reef, which this summer narrowly avoided Listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, after vigorous opposition from the Australian government.
Although the main risk to the reef is climate change, poor water quality is also a threat to coastal regions. the Marine Park Authority found that fine grazing sediments are a major source of water pollution on the reef.
“When forests and bush are bulldozed into reef watersheds, this pollution drains into rivers and then suffocates the reef,” Plesman explained.