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Queensland vegetation management policy results in 20 megaton annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

A reduction of up to 20 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions per year through the implementation of the government’s vegetation management policy was the single biggest contribution to Australia’s climate change to date, said Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Water, C A Wallace, in the Queensland Parliament on 22 August 2007.

Regulation amends fees: “This regulation,” Wallace said, “which the opposition has requested be not supported, amends fees made under 11 acts that are administered by my portfolio. These are the:

• Acquisition of Land Act 1967;

• Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980;

• Foreign Ownership of Land Register Act 1988;

• Land Act 1994;

• Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002;

• Land Title Act 1994;

• Surveyors Act 2003;

• Valuation of Land Act 1944;

• Valuers Registration Act 1992;

• Vegetation Management Act 1999; and

• Water Act 2000.”

Queensland a leader in climate change management: Wallace said that his department’s implementation of the government’s vegetation management policy, including the end of broadscale land clearing in Queensland on 31 December 2006, had resulted in a reduction of up to 20 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions per year in the first target period to 2012 of global greenhouse emissions accounting. “This is the single biggest contribution to Australia’s climate change to date and places Queensland at the front of the field in response to climate change. It is a shame,” lamented the Minister, “that the begrudging present tenant of The Lodge in Canberra could not even acknowledge this major contribution by Queensland to Australia’s achievement of greenhouse gas reductions in line with Kyoto.”

Reference: CA Wallace, Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland, Member for Thuringowa, Records of Proceedings, First session of the Fifty-Second Parliament, Queensland, 22 August 2007.

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Posted in Australia, Credits, Emissions, Forest, Law, Queensland, Regulation, Species | 1 Comment »

Qld remote sensing program uses satellite imagery to monitor natural environment; maps extent and spread of weeds

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

A new program would use satellite imagery linked to ground work to help researchers observe, map and understand changes to Queensland’s environment, announced Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Water C A Wallace in the Queensland Parliament on 23 August 2007.

Water quality and spread of weeds: “The Queensland government is committed to looking after the state’s vast land, vegetation and water resources,” Wallace said. “Remote sensing technology is a key tool in our approach to sustainable resource management. Today I am pleased to announce that the Department of Natural Resources and Water and the University of Queensland have joined forces to create the most advanced remote sensing program of its kind in Australia. The program has been designed to more effectively monitor the state’s natural environment. The new program will use satellite imagery linked to ground work to help researchers observe, map and understand changes to Queensland’s environment, including water quality and the spread of weeds.”

Two projects: ” Scientists from my department and UQ, as well as students from UQ’s Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Science, will take part in the program, which will be based at UQ’s St Lucia campus,” the Minister said. “Researchers will use high-resolution satellite imagery to assess and monitor wildlife habitats and vegetation that filter and improve water quality. Another project will use state-of-the-art satellite sensors to map the extent and spread of weeds such as prickly acacia, rubber vine and lantana. This research will link closely with the government’s Blueprint for the Bush program.”

Joint project covers most of east coast: “This innovative partnership will create a hub of expertise for research using remote sensing by sharing technical expertise, resources and training opportunities,” said Wallace. “The Department of Natural Resources and Water has used remote sensing for years to assist in the use of monitoring land clearing. Under this new program, the Department of Natural Resources and Water will join its resources with UQ, which is recognised as a national and international leader in remote-sensing education and research. The agreement will bring together skilled researchers, major computing capacity and data covering most of Australia’s east coast. This partnership is another example of the Smart State teaming up with our top universities so Queensland can lead the country in research and development.”

Reference: CA Wallace, Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland, Member for Thuringowa, Records of Proceedings, First session of the Fifty-Second Parliament, Queensland, 23 August 2007.

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Qld Bill removes cap on Local Government fees for environmentally relevant activities; endangered plant collecting penalties overhauled

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

Local councils would have powers to enforce environmental regulations, including those protecting threatened native plant species, said Queensland’s Minister for Environment L H Nelson-Carr in the Queensland Parliament on 23 August 2007.

Councils will have access to EPA tools: “Most of these changes will happen with the remake of the Environmental Protection Regulation 1998 in 2008,” the Minister said. “However, to help Local Governments with their responsibilities, councils will be provided with access to all the relevant enforcement tools under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 so that they are well equipped to deal with nuisance matters arising from activities that have not been adequately conditioned under their existing approval.”

Councils able to recover costs: “The amendments in the Bill will allow Local Governments to set their own fees for the environmentally relevant activities they administer,” said Nelson-Carr. “Currently, Local Government fees for environmental activities are capped. This cap unfairly limits councils’ abilities to set fees to cover the costs of monitoring these activities. Councils will now be able to set their licence fees for certain environmental activities.”

Penalties to fit the crime: “The second change introduces tiered penalties for offences relating to protected plants to make it clearer that the punishment should fit the crime. At present, offences relating to the taking and use of protected plants under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 can only be pursued on indictment, which means that even the most minor offences lead to a defendant facing a maximum penalty that includes the possibility of imprisonment,” said the Minister. “This is a costly way to deal with minor offences and means that action is often not taken. Queensland has the greatest variety of native plant groups in Australia, with more than 8,000 species of flowering plants, gymnosperms and ferns. About 13 percent of Queensland’s native plant species are protected plants. These plants are in danger of extinction in the next 10 to 50 years unless action is taken to reverse their decline. Apart from vegetation clearing, plant collecting is the greatest threat to many types of protected plant. Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994, the harvesting and sale of native plants and plant parts are closely regulated. Consequently, there is a public expectation that enforcement action will be taken for the most serious offences relating to illegal damage or removal of these plants.”

Better guidance on penalties: “Introducing tiered penalties for the protected plant offences will improve practical enforcement of these offences by separating the offences into different classes that carry relative penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence,” Nelson-Carr said. “The maximum penalty for the most serious offences has not changed. For less serious offences, such as just taking one or two vulnerable plants, the maximum penalty will be lower. This will provide courts and defendants with better guidance about the appropriate level of fine.”

Reference: LH Nelson-Carr, Minister for Environment and Multiculturalism, Mundingburra, Australian Labor Party, Records of Proceedings, First session of the Fifty-Second Parliament, Queensland, 23 August 2007.

Posted in Australia, Forest, Hansard, Law, Policy, Queensland, Regulation, Species | Leave a Comment »

Victoria Seed Bank project an “insurance policy” against Australian plant extinctions

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

The Victorian seed bank project is run by the botanic gardens, with help from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.” It was the world’s “insurance policy” against plant extinctions – green thumbs from across the globe banking tens of thousands of seeds for the future, reported The Age (7/9/2007, p. 4).

280 species so far: Called the Millenium Seed Bank, the project was started by Britain’s Royal Botanic Garden in Kew, and 18,000 plant species had already been catalogued and stored, The Age reported. The Victorian arm of the international effort – the Victorian Conservation Seedbank – started two years ago, and scientists had so far collected 4.5 million seeds for the cause, representing 280 species. After the seeds were dried and cleaned, they were stored in freezers set at minus 20 degrees. The idea was that if a plant died out, the banked specimens could be used to reintroduce it to the wild. Half of the collected samples would be deposited with the UK bank, with the rest to be stored at Victoria’s National Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Melbourne.

“Extinct” plant found: The Age reported: “More than 3000 native species of plants can be found in Victoria, but about 700 are considered to be under threat of extinction. Collection of Victorian seeds started in October 2005. Items banked so far include seeds from a daisy bush that grows on a single limestone marble outcrop in East Gippsland, and seeds from a eucalypt known from just one plant in the Wimmera. The collection work has also led to the rediscovery of Pimelea spinescens, a plant thought to be extinct since 1901.

The Age, 7/9/2007, p. 4

Posted in Australia, Forest, Policy, Species, Victoria | Leave a Comment »