Scientific Panel to Examine the “Full Picture” On Vegetation Management

AgForce has welcomed the establishment of an expert panel of eminent scientists to help the Australian beef industry examine vegetation management measures for the mutual benefit of agriculture and the environment.

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The scientific panel – which meets in Brisbane for the first time this month – is being established for the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework, a whole-of-industry initiative which defines sustainable beef production and provides evidence on how that is being achieved.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley says the harsh new vegetation management restrictions which have been imposed on Queensland farmers is based on incomplete information, and this new scientific panel may help to fill in the blanks.

“The Queensland Government has been using satellite imagery for years to measure vegetation clearing rates for the State-wide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS), but they haven’t been measuring how much vegetation in Queensland has grown at the same time.”

Briefing notes released under Right to Information laws reveal Ministers were told in 2016 that we have accurate information on losses, but not accurate information on gains, so in effect, the SLATS report has only been telling half the story.”

Australian Beef Sustainability Framework Steering Group Chair Bryce Camm says an expert third-party panel of eminent scientists had been invited to help define and refine indicators for the key priority area – the balance of grass and tree cover nationally.

“We appointed a team of world-leading remote sensing experts, biologists, pasture experts and conservationists to our expert panel because there is no agreement on what or how to accurately measure the tree growth and tree/pasture changes in vegetation managed by the Australian cattle industry and indeed, the related expectations of our customers.”

Mr Maudsley said the work being done by technical experts would help to develop a long term solution to managing vegetation for the mutual benefit of industry productivity and environmental outcomes.

“It’s fantastic to see the industry taking ownership of this issue through the Sustainability Steering Group and injecting some much needed leadership into the vegetation management debate.”

“Queensland agriculture can and should have an exciting future, but we need governments at all levels to work with us, not against us, and adopt policies that take us forward, not drag us back.”