Farmer's growing concern

A CHILDERS avocado farmer has spoken out against new regrowth vegetation protection laws, introduced in state parliament this week.

Under the rules to protect endangered native vegetation, Donna Duncan's avocado and lychee orchard is zoned blue - meaning that native regrowth older than 20 years cannot be removed.

“But it's ridiculous that we are zoned blue because we don't have any native trees,” Mrs Duncan said.

“We used to have a native wattle, but that got struck by lightning three years ago.”

Mrs Duncan said she was concerned that the classification had been changed without informing land owners.

“It could certainly affect the value of properties,” she said.

Announcing the new plan in parliament on Tuesday, Ms Bligh said it struck the balance between protecting Queensland's environment and allowing food and fibre production to continue.

The new measures will apply to areas of mature regrowth not cleared since December 31, 1989 and to native regrowth vegetation with 50 metres of watercourses in the priority reef catchments of Burdekin, Mackay, Whitsundays and the wet tropics.

“Rather than a blanket ban, the new arrangements will set minimum mandatory standards for anyone wishing to clear regrowth in certain circumstances,” Ms Bligh said.

“These will apply to over 2.6 million hectares of the state and, provided the standards are met, clearing will be allowed without the need for a development approval or permit.”

She said it was expected more than one million hectares of the “highest-value” regrowth vegetation would be protected under the new legislation.

“This will include regrowth which is endangered in wetlands ... in habitats of threatened species and native vegetation within 50 metres of watercourses in priority reef catchments,” she said.

The proposed laws have in the past drawn criticism.

Farmers say the plan goes too far, while greens say it does not go far enough.



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