New protected species map comes at big cost for producers
A SEEMINGLY arbitrary change by the State Government to the way it maps protected plants will have a devastating effect on many producers.
This will make it more onerous and expensive for producers to manage and graze their land, potentially driving down property values by millions of dollars.
The new Trigger, or Blue Dot, maps have dramatically increased the area thought, not proven, to support protected animals, notably endangered, vulnerable and near threatened species.
This is according to AgForce CEO Michael Guerin who said the Department of Environment and Science, which oversees the maps and underlying data, has been silent, despite the public release of the new maps.
"There appears to be no available scientific, ecological or cartographic rationale for how these new maps, which in some cases have increased the protected areas on properties from almost nothing to nearly everything, have been developed," Mr Guerin said.
AgForce had meetings with the Department and the Queensland Herbarium to try and understand the change and the impact on producers.
"DES staff couldn't explain the considerable discrepancies in how protected plant areas are mapped, such as why, for example, neighbours with identical agricultural land use have been mapped differently," Mr Guerin said.
"They also had no answers for the extensive errors throughout the maps, such as including dams, mines, quarries and even sporting stadiums as protected plant habit."
The government has advised AgForce it will investigate the maps.
Mr Guerin said producers were being forced to do, as well as pay for, the government's work.
"Producers are prevented from clearing or thinning on areas which may be home to protected species," he said.
Producers can pay anywhere from $5000 to $30,000, depending on the size and complexity of the protected area, for a formal ecological survey of their property to determine the accuracy and veracity of the government map.
"The government isn't sure whether anything worth protecting exists in those locations, and there is even a disclaimer that the government takes no responsibility for the accuracy of this product," Mr Guerin said.
However, fines for breaching the regulations are up to $400,000 for a class 1 offence.
Mr Guerin said producers wanted to protect endangered species, but were disillusioned by the unscientific and disruptive method the government had decided.
"AgForce are currently preparing individual property maps for members to go out at the end of the month," he said.
AgForce members should contact AgForce if they would like assistance to understand the new mapping and the implications for their properties.