WORKABLE vegetation management mapping would be more beneficial to producers rather than reverting to grubby political tactics, AgForce CEO Michael Guerin has claimed following media reports that the owners of Wombinoo Station have been fined for illegally clearing 132 hectares of land outside of the 2,700 hectares they were permitted to clear
“This highlights the need for a better approach,” Mr Guerin said.
“The owners of Wombinoo Station have worked closely with the Department every step of the way through the permit process, and were surprised to find out that they were being fined for illegal land clearing through the media.”
He continued: “It is common knowledge that there are significant issues with many of the Vegetation Management maps used by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, and this makes it easy for landholders trying to act in good faith to inadvertently clear outside of permitted zones, even with the use of GPS technology.
“Combined with about 50 amendments over the life of the Vegetation Management framework, it is a full-time job trying to keep both up-to-date and compliant with the laws.
“This highlights the urgent need to find a consistent, fair and practical approach for landholders to manage their land.
“AgForce does not condone any landholders deliberately engaging in any illegal activity,” Mr Guerin said.
“If someone has done the wrong thing, then AgForce supports the Department taking appropriate action.
“However, the Department’s official focus should be on working effectively with the landholders in the first instance — not to rush to report the allegations to the media, which results in tarnishing the landholders and the industry’s reputation.
“These producers have been dragged through the mud and subjected to arson attacks, vandalism and verbal and written abuse just for trying to provide food for family dinner tables.
“AgForce is calling on the Government to stop its heavy-handed approach, which unnecessarily scares off other producers from managing their vegetation in any capacity, and instead improve its flawed Vegetation Management maps.
“The State Government’s own data confirms the vast majority of landholders are doing the right thing.
“AgForce called on the DNRME last month to clarify the State Government’s view on this matter and they have finally done so three weeks later, largely through the media.”
The Federal Government confirmed on December 6 that “allegations of illegal land clearing, made against (the Jonsson family) by the Wilderness Society and reported by the ABC on November 23, 2017, were looked at by my department and dismissed as unfounded.”