What environments are affected by land clearing?

When trees, soil, and any contaminants or pesticides present in the soil are removed, it washes into nearby waterways. This leads to water pollution and algal blooms, and can even damage important aquatic habitats such as coral reefs. This erosion can also cause flooding in waterways. Land clearance is a fundamental pressure on the environment.

It causes the loss, fragmentation and degradation of native vegetation, and a variety of impacts on our soils (e.g., erosion and loss of nutrients), waterways and coastal regions (e.g., land clearance has a major impact on the health of rivers and coastal ecosystems). It increases erosion and runoff of sediments, nutrients and other pollutants into coastal waters, causing damage to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, such as seagrass beds. Increased nutrients in rivers and streams can cause outbreaks of toxic algae. The Queensland government argues that the changes will restore balance and allow farmers to clear without unnecessary bureaucracy.

The Queensland government has taken a short-term vision of how to increase productivity rather than considering the long-term impacts this will have on the land that farmers depend on. Land clearing causes habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, exposing what is left to fire and invasive pests such as weeds. Trees help the soil retain water and topsoil, providing the rich nutrients to sustain additional forest life. Eighty percent of Earth's terrestrial animals and plants live in forests, and deforestation threatens species such as the orangutan, the Sumatran tiger and many bird species.

It contributes to land degradation, salinity and decreased water quality, damage to coastal marine areas, species extinction and emissions from The current Queensland government argues that relaxing land clearance laws is better for farmers and better for their productivity. We believe that the projected demand for food, fuel and fiber can be met without greater net loss of forests through better forest management and more productive land use. Estimates suggest that one-third of the world's arable land has been lost to soil erosion and degradation since 1960. By clearing land and eliminating “carbon stocks”, farmers will also lose income opportunities under the Carbon Farming initiative.

However, changes in land clearance laws in Queensland and Victoria show a disregard for the large amount of work and research that has been done on logging native vegetation and the impacts this has on land and ecosystems. Despite the election promise of the current Queensland government, farmers can now clean up remaining (virgin) vegetation for both dry-land agriculture and high-value irrigation. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world's land surface, but they're disappearing at an alarming rate. The pressure on the environment from land clearing and habitat fragmentation and degradation includes a legacy of extensive historical clearing, which presents a considerable challenge to land managers because correcting historical impacts can be costly and difficult.