Forestry land to be protected

ENVIRONMENTALISTS have reacted with cautious enthusiasm at the state government announcement that some pockets of forestry earmarked for sale would be turned into conservation land.

Forestry Plantations Queensland (FPQ) manages 210,000ha of forestry in the State and will be sold under the Queensland government’s assets sale plan.

The Crown Land is not being sold, just the trees and the business.

More than 2685ha has been earmarked for conservation areas and include sections at Mt Mee, Watalgan and Oakview.

Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council co-ordinator Emma-Kate Currie said the change meant about 2% of forestry land being “transitioned” to conservation status.

“It’s definitely a positive step toward contribution to land conservation in Queensland, but our big concern would be that unless legislation is passed to ensure this process, the land may in fact be allocated to some other economic or agricultural use by a future government,” she said.

Ms Currie said she would like to see the land turned into national parks so the vegetation could have the opportunity to regrow in a protected way.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser said the formal sale process for the government-owned business had now begun.

“FPQ is one of five state-owned businesses that we are selling in response to the global financial crisis and its impact on our budget,” he said.

“We need to build infrastructure and to protect jobs, and if that means tough decisions then our government’s up for it.”

The land pegged out for environmental purposes would be allowed to regenerate after the trees currently on the sites mature and are harvested.

This process could take up to 40 years.

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