Australian government disputes magnitude of deforestation in Queensland state

It was the first big promise at the Glasgow climate summit: more than a hundred countries decided to put an end to deforestation by 2030. Thats a big step, because 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation. The Australian delegation also signed the plan.

But according to a new analysis commissioned by Australian newspaper The Guardian, there is ambiguity about the scale of deforestation in Australia. The national government records far less deforestation than the Queensland state government, where most trees are cut down. That could mean that deforestation is much more common in Australia than previously thought.

Bulldozer Tracks

Martin Taylor, professor of conservation policy at the University of Queensland, has coexisted the figures of the state government and those in Canberra. โ€œI have found at least 53 places where the state says deforestation has taken place, but the national government says the forest has not been compromised,โ€ Taylor says from his Brisbane office. โ€œThats odd, of course. Thats why I picked up the satellite photos and it clearly shows that large parts of the forest have disappeared. You can even see the bulldozers traces from space.โ€

Nature organizations have been warning of Australias large-scale tree cap for years. In the east of the country, they believe that deforestation is as large-scale as in the Amazon and Borneo. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Australia is the only developed country on a list of countries with the most deforestation.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has responded cautiously positively to the Australian governments intention to stop deforestation. According to Dermot OGorman, director of WWF in Australia, theres still a lot to win. โ€œIn 2018, at least 370,000 hectares of forest were rolled down in Australia,โ€ he responds. Thats three quarters of a million football fields. โ€œThis plan must therefore be followed up quickly with rapid joint action.โ€

Koalas in Danger

The trees that are cut down in Australia mainly give way to intensive livestock farming. There are 24 million cows in Australia, almost as much as the population. In Queensland, 73 percent of deforestation has to do with cattle breeding for beef production. This has an impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Tree cap releases CO2 and cows emit methane gas.

In addition, the disappearance of forest has a major impact on vulnerable animals that depend on this area. Koalas in particular are hard hit by the loss of living environment. The movable, typical Australian animals need a relatively large eucalyptus forest to survive. The loss of living space is one of the main reasons that the iconic animal is now in danger.

The koala population has fallen by thirty percent in the last three years. This has to do with the devastating forest fires of two years ago in addition to the cap of forests. Millions of hectares of forest, including three billion animals, went up in flames. And in addition, large populations of koalas have chlamydia disease, making them seriously ill and infertile. According to research commissioned by the state government New South Wales, the koala will die out without firm intervention by 2050.

Swooming Countries

The national government has not yet responded to the investigation showing that there is a difference between Queensland and government figures. As far as researcher Taylor is concerned, the national measurement method leaves much to be desired. โ€œIts a mystery to me. How is it that the state says trees have been cut down while the national government says the forest is intact? Then something is seriously wrong with the Australian Government model.โ€

Australia is not the only country where the calculation methods are sometimes used creatively. This week, the Washington Post published a study showing that many countries are rumbling to get out of the bus as favorably as possible. According to the researchers, there is a gap of at least 8.5 billion to 13.3 billion tonnes of unreported emissions per year worldwide. That means that the Earth may heat up much faster than is now thought.