Biodiversity & Environment

Biodiversity & Environment

Biodiversity and ecosystems maintain earth’s life and climate. Read the full policy.

 (Adopted October 2014)

Principles

The Queensland Greens believe that:

1. Biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem processes maintain the Earth’s life support systems including the climate system. Their protection, conservation and restoration can be achieved by minimizing the loss and fragmentation of habitats, species decline from land clearing, avoiding unsustainable land use, inhibiting the spread of invasive species and should take into account the natural stressors of fire, drought, floods, storms and cyclones (all exacerbated by climate change).

2. The protection, conservation and restoration of biodiversity is essential for the wellbeing of all life on Earth.

3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, farmers, the Queensland Government (public land) and private landholders all have a critical role to play in natural resource management, protecting the productive landscape, maintaining our cultural and natural heritage, and in restoring and protecting Queensland’s biodiversity. The use of natural resources by all human enterprises must be sustainable and not compromise the integrity or availability of such resources for other species and natural processes.

4. There is a global biodiversity crisis. The continuing decline of Queensland's biodiversity poses an unacceptable threat to human and ecosystem health and is reducing our capacity to cope with major ecological threats such as climate change.

5. Establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of terrestrial, freshwater and marine protected areas managed primarily to protect biodiversity and the improved resilience of our ecosystems is vital. This includes all areas of high conservation value (including regrowth) of state, regional and local significance.

6. Adequate resources, recognition and support should be delivered to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, landholders, Queensland Government agencies, industry groups and other peak organisations, community groups and others, managing and restoring Queensland’s biodiversity and environment  This includes resources to prevent new ecologically invasive threats, management of weeds, feral animals and diseases, improving grazing land management and the phasing out of inappropriate fire regimes.

7. Sustainable economic development by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria needs to be consistent with the maintenance of the natural values of these regions.

8. A statutory mandate, incumbent on planning authorities and affiliated agencies (public and private), to place higher priority on the preservation of ecologically significant, endangered or threatened ecosystems and species. This includes maintaining and increasing systems of viable ‘habitat corridors’ between remnant ecosystems.

9. Adequate resourcing, political support, improved accountability for the relevant government agencies and legislative reform are all necessary to ensure politically resilient, effective and robust environmental protection and monitoring.

Aims

The Queensland Greens will:

Biodiversity

1.    Review and restore the Queensland Biodiversity Strategy, and associated legislation, policy and regulation. Ensure adequate funding for timely implementation and enforcement in order to restore, enhance and protect the resilience of Queensland ecosystems to climate change and other impacts.

2.    Amend the Nature Conservation Act to:

a) Identify and protect ecological communities;

b) Protect the habitat of near threatened species; and

c) Permanently exclude mining activities in, and from impacting upon, all protected areas and those with high conservation values at state, regional and local levels.

3.    Increase the budget for protected area management to ensure that management plans for all National Parks are developed, adequately funded and implemented.

4.    Support the resilience of Queensland’s wildlife and natural places against climate change by expanding the protected area estate to 20% by 2020, including 15% in national parks. Ensure additions are based on the Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system principles and are strategically targeted to re-connect fragmented wildlife corridors and establish climate refugia (e.g. continue the buy-back of the Daintree).

5.    Amend the Vegetation Management Act  to protect endangered, near threatened and high conservation value regrowth vegetation, all remnant and high value regrowth vegetation in urban areas, and vegetation in riparian and wildlife corridors.

6.    Provide structural adjustment to landowners proven to be adversely affected by these amendments.

7.    Disallow offsets for clearing of endangered or near threatened remnant and high value regrowth vegetation.

8.    Where viable, remove or modify structures impeding tidal flow in areas which were once wetlands, to restore wetland functionality and habitat.

9.    Strengthen the legislation for protection against and management of invasive species and adequately fund implementation programs.

10. Confer responsibility for meeting state biodiversity outcomes to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of State Development and Infrastructure Planning (DSDIP) or any subsequent equivalent agencies.

11. Adequately fund effective control programs for established invasive species at the landholder, bioregion and state level.

World Heritage

12. In collaboration with the federal government, traditional owners and the local community, and dependent upon traditional owner consent, progress a World Heritage nomination for Cape York Peninsula.

13. Introduce dedicated World Heritage legislation that provides the highest level of protection for all World Heritage sites in Queensland against threatening and degrading activities.

14. In cooperation with the federal government, ensure adequate funding is provided to maintain the natural and cultural values of all Queensland World Heritage Areas.

15. Review visitation to World Heritage Areas to determine optimum levels and activities to protect World Heritage values and restrict/manage where necessary.

Assisting land managers to meet their duty of care

16. Support and extend the single property-level planning system (One Plan) to further assist landholders in understanding, planning and implementing practices to meet their statutory environmental obligations.

17. Ensure that a rating of ‘good’ for biodiversity is required before the lease as a whole can be considered in ‘good condition’ in order to obtain longer leases in accordance with the Delbessie Agreement and the Land Act 1994.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders values and economic opportunities

18. Increase ongoing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in caring for country at all levels by extending the “River Rangers” model to all Queensland catchments and participation in nature conservation programs (both on and off reserves).

19. Require Emergency Management Queensland to consult with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop locally appropriate fire management plans that protect critical assets, incorporate local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values and improve biodiversity outcomes.

20. Legislate for the implementation of meaningful joint management of national parks with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities while complying with the cardinal principle of National Parks: “to provide, to the greatest possible extent, for the permanent preservation of the area's natural condition and the protection of the area's cultural resources and values”.

21. Work with the local Aboriginal communities of the Wet Tropics and the Australian Government to make a submission to the World Heritage Commission for the inclusion of indigenous cultural values in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

22. Recognise and reflect local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural values in the management of all World Heritage and Protected Areas and declared Wild Rivers Areas.

23. Increase funding for 100 indigenous rangers and ensure genuine joint management of protected areas on Cape York Peninsula by traditional owners and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

24. Provide funds to support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders management and conservation of the land and sea, by providing grants to support training programs, business development initiatives and employment programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved in the land and sea management sector.

Environmental assessment, monitoring, enforcement

25. Provide appropriate resources for compliance and enforcement (including strategic prosecutions) and education for compliance programs for all natural resource legislation, especially for illegal clearing.

26. Review the effectiveness of private and state forestry Codes of Practice to determine if they are achieving ecological sustainability goals.

27. Legislate to prohibit the mining and exploration of uranium.

28. Develop clear, binding, best practice standards for rehabilitating mined lands.

29. Ensure existing and future mining legislation and activities in Queensland are subordinate to the Vegetation Management Act 1999, Nature Conservation Act 1992 and relevant environmental protection legislation.

Legal reform

30. Increased funding for community legal services and restore funding to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

31. Provide funding for public interest environmental litigation through Legal Aid.

Carbon sequestration

32. Reform the Vegetation Management Act 1999  to place greater emphasis on the carbon sequestration potential of vegetation to encourage deep cuts in greenhouse emissions consistent with the Queensland Greens Climate and Energy policies.

33. Restrict biosequestration activities which diminish biodiversity, e.g. exotic monoculture plantations

Wild Rivers

34. Review and restore the Wild Rivers Act 2005, so that indigenous economic and cultural freedoms are maintained, but restoring all the original Wild River declarations. Develop a schedule for additional rivers for protection such as the: Jardine River, Jacky Jacky Creek, Ducie River, Olive River, Pascoe River, Watson River, Holroyd River, Coleman River and Jeannie River. Deliver on the existing commitment to employ 100 full-time Indigenous Wild River Ranger positions in Far North Queensland, and 10 in the Lake Eyre Basin.

35. Protect a new series of river basins under the restored Wild Rivers legislation within the next term of government (following extensive community consultation). Priority river systems for consideration are: Paroo River, Bulloo River, Gilbert River, Baffle Creek, Noosa River, Sandy Creek, Normanby Basin and Waterpark Creek.

36. Commit additional resources to support genuine consultation and engagement with Traditional Owner groups and other stakeholders during and after the Wild River declaration processes to fully understand and make allowances for cultural and economic development by them.

37. Cancel the proposed Gilbert River, Flinders River, Nathan, Connors River, Urannah and Nullinga dams.

38. Include in the restored Wild Rivers Act 2005 amendments to allow the public to nominate a river for Wild River protection.

Sustainable management of Queensland’s coasts

39. Review and amend the Coast Management Plan 2014 and State Planning Policy 2014 to include climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and more rigorous coastal protections from developments based upon available science. Provide statutory direction for local governments in relation to existing communities. Review the Coast Management Plan 2014 and amend it where necessary to properly protect coastal ecosystems and processes.

40. Amend the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and State Planning Policy 2014 to require Councils and state decision makers to adhere to an amended Coast Management Plan 2014, and enact legislation to give statutory effect to the plan.

41. Adequately resource best practice monitoring for all estuarine areas of Queensland as part of a comprehensive integrated aquatic ecosystem health program.

42. Assess the effectiveness of the initial zonings in protecting fish stocks for commercial, recreational and environmental purposes.

43. Develop a water quality protection plan for all coastal catchments, based on the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan principles.

44. Increase funding for existing marine park management and planning.

45. Change boat registration fees so they are calculated upon engine horsepower (the same as motor vehicles) to reflect the higher impact of high horse power vessels.

46. Assess the impact of and introduce regulation to manage the number of boat ramps to limit the impact of vessels on estuaries and coastal foreshores.

47. Review maximum take limits for commercial and recreational fishing (bag limits) and compliance with the regulations to ensure the sustainability of stock levels and increase marine biodiversity.

48. Ban shark fishing in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area immediately. Phase out shark fishing in Queensland fisheries as soon as possible and only allow again in future, when specific catches of shark have scientifically been shown to be sustainable.

49. Require all distributors and retailers and food and health product outlets to use standard common names and the state or country of origin for all marine and derived foods and health products.

50. Develop a State Planning Policy with strict environmental and site suitability criteria for the location and operation of all aquaculture, with a three year grace period of full adoption of existing facilities. Allow community appeal rights against the grant of new aquaculture approvals.

51. Exclude oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Coral Sea. 

Sustainable use of Queensland’s native forests and increasing the forestry plantation estate

52. Continue the transition of Queensland’s native hardwood timber industry to one based on non-monoculture plantations.

53. Amend “The code applying to a native forest practice on freehold land” to prohibit logging native rainforest species and protect native rainforest ecosystems.

Re-use of resources

54. Fully implement and adequately fund the Queensland Waste Strategy and make waste fees comparable with other Australian states.

55. Investigate and legislate for an appropriate minimum distance from residences for noxious industrial activity. Relocate any noxious industrial zones that fall within this minimum distance. Refer Queensland’s State Planning Policy.

56. Establish an evidence based Queensland Industrial Ecology program to promote and invest in reducing or transforming toxic and noxious outputs in order to reduce their environmental and health impacts.

57. Require all industrial sites, facilities and developments to develop Toxic and Noxious Substance Management and Reduction Plans that include publicly available (online) annual reports on the storage, movements, and achievement in reduction targets for toxic and noxious substances above trigger thresholds.

58. Increase funding to local governments to provide for the pre-sorting of green waste, recyclables, electronic waste, etc. at the point of deposit (e.g. homes, businesses, public bins).

59. Increase the capacity for processing recycled timber in Queensland.

60. Develop product stewardship frameworks for specific products in consultation with industry and consumer groups.

61. Introduce Queensland Container Deposit Legislation or apply a National container deposit program.