Illustrious and internationally renowned woodland scientist Dr. Bill Burrows has been reluctantly lured from retirement by the ill-advised claims of environmental devastation made by WWF’s Martin FJ Taylor’s report, Bushland at risk of renewed clearing in Queensland.
The thrust of the paper was supported by 27 Queensland scientists in a public statement.
In an essay entitled, Bushland at risk of continued tree and shrub thickening in Queensland, Dr. Burrows has accused Mr. Taylor and the WWF scientists of selective reading of the scientific literature. They certainly do not recognise the complexity and diversity of ecological processes, many of which landowners and others have been warning have been disadvantaged by the broad brush of the Vegetation Management Act.
Encroachment of native woody weeds into what has previously been open forest with good grass cover disadvantages granivorous birds. Many ecosystems named in Dr. Burrows’ essay are so disadvantaged including mulga thickening in country east of the Warrego River and encroaching rainforest invading wet sclerophyll forest in the wet tropics. The cause of the move to woody plant dominance is thought to be changed fire regimes.
Much of the State is zoned for agriculture and the vast majority of that land is leasehold land where the only allowable activity is livestock and agriculture and the State is paid rental monies for that privilege.
There is a huge investment involved in clearing for agriculture as Dr Burrow writes in his essay,
So allowing land to be cleared and then preventing subsequent (and necessary) regrowth control amounts to the imposition of damaging retrospective legislation, without compensation for the harm inflicted. This is obviously unjust, inequitable, and even darn right vindictive-targeting as it does landholders who did nothing illegal.
Property Rights Australia welcomes this critique of aspects of the Taylor paper. The paper has been widely pedalled by WWF in the urban press along with their hysterical, alarmist and emotional claims as being a statement with authority based on science. The Taylor report was also quoted at length in the opposition’s speech in Parliament at the second reading of the VEGETATION MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK AMENDMENT BILL. [refer to page 1567] It is disappointing that the opposition during the speech [refer to page 1579] relied so heavily on information sourced from WWF which is no more than an unelected, unaccountable multinational money making corporation.
Obvious to those who live, work and manage the Australian landscape on reading the Taylor report is that it is no more than a desktop study based on a lot of assumptions and filled with a lot of irrelevant data. At best it could be called a literature review at worst it is shallow and lacking in substance. The literature referenced by the Taylor report is merely previous WWF papers also dubious in their scientific rigour.
It compares poorly to the essay, Bushland at risk of continued tree and shrub thickening in Queensland by Dr Burrows, an eminent woodland ecologist scientist with 40 years study in this field before his retirement. Dr Burrows’ paper is only five pages long but is extensively referenced by scientific papers in the following three pages.
The Taylor report places a lot of emphasis of farmers achieving financial reward from carbon sinks. Dr Burrows in his essay points out,
The WWF document advances the cruel illusion that woodland resources on agricultural land will provide some type of carbon sink reward for rural landholders. First, let it be unequivocally stated that any such sink must be guaranteed to be kept in place, or replaced if lost, for 100 years before any advanced cash benefit would be forthcoming under the Kyoto Protocol.
To be rigorous in the measurement of a carbon sink one must measure below ground fluxes as well as above ground processes but the former is technologically constrained.
Third, the document states that the “difference between predicted standing biomass and maximum potential biomass was taken to represent the carbon sequestration opportunity from protecting and restoring native bushland”. Under these circumstances (potential biomass attained) any bushland on any property in Queensland would have no value for grazing or cropping anywhere in the State.
WWF would conveniently like to ignore that Queensland agricultural lands are not meant to be a free extension of the State’s national park system but are primarily to be used for the production of food and fibre.
Property rights Australia supports the science advanced by Dr. Burrows. It was science that was rejected by the Beattie Government in favour of the jingoistic wishes of the big environmental organisations who have no respect for property rights or people’s right to earn a living.
Any claims that rural industry has not suffered as a result of the Vegetation Management Act are simplistic and ill researched with ABARE, the Productivity Commission and the Reserve Bank of Australia recording disturbing declines in the industry.
Queensland Country Life published an article about Dr Bill Burrows essay, WWF in wilderness on veg reform.
Later published post
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