New Research Reveals Scale of Deforestation Crisis in Australia

New independent research commissioned by Greenpeace has revealed the shocking impact of the deforestation crisis in Australia, with huge swathes of federally-mapped koala and threatened species habitat bulldozed in Queensland.

The research reveals how little is known about the destruction of native forests and bushland in Australia, with an area the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground bulldozed every two minutes. The majority of deforestation is occurring in Queensland, driven primarily by beef production.

The data reveals that 2.2 million hectares of forest and bushland was bulldozed in Queensland in just five years — 2.1 million hectares of which was federally-mapped threatened species habitat. Over 730,000 hectares of this was endangered koala habitat.

In Australia, over 90% of deforestation occurs without Federal environmental assessment due to a legal blindspot in nature laws, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), which this year faces once-in-a-generation reforms.

Gemma Plesman, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said the unregulated destruction of forests and bushland for beef production cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.

“The vast majority of deforestation in Australia is for beef production, much of which goes to large companies like McDonald’s, Woolworths and Coles — most consumers would be horrified to know that their steak dinner could be fuelling forest and wildlife destruction,” Plesman said.

“It doesn’t need to be this way. The majority of Australian beef is already deforestation-free but currently, companies like McDonald’s do not have adequate systems in place to rule out deforestation from their supply chain.

Native Animals

“In the midst of a biodiversity crisis, companies purchasing beef have a responsibility to eliminate deforestation from their supply chain — a practice which is both unnecessary and out-of-step with global demand for responsibly sourced beef.

“This shocking data should be a wake-up call to companies who are effectively hiding the deforestation in their products from consumers. It’s time for them to lead the way with strong commitments to bulldozer-free beef.”

Meghan Halverson, co-founder Queensland Koala Crusaders and conservationist, said that unregulated deforestation is taking a deadly toll on native wildlife, killing and maiming millions of animals every year and placing threatened species like the koala at risk of extinction.

“Around 50 million animals are killed every year in Queensland and NSW alone by deforestation. As a wildlife carer, I see first-hand the horrific injuries inflicted on native animals like koalas and hairy-nosed wombats from deforestation, fires and the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation,” Halverson said.

“Australia holds the unenviable title of world leader in mammal extinctions. It is simply not good enough that we have one of the worst rates of deforestation in the world, alongside places like the Congo and Amazon Basin.

“If the Labor government is to hold true to its promise of “No New Extinctions”, it must urgently introduce the strong laws needed to protect native animals from habitat destruction.”