Land clearing impact on woody native vegetation

N.B. you are viewing the archived 2015 report.

Return to the current 2017 report.

Key finding

In 2014-2015, 296,000 hectares per year of woody vegetation was cleared, statewide. This represented a 91% increase from 2011-2012 and the highest woody vegetation clearing rate since 2005-2006. Pasture was the dominant replacement land cover, contributing to 91% of statewide clearing.

Queensland

The Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) monitors Queensland's forests and woodlands to assess vegetation extent and clearing activities.

All clearing in this text refers to the woody vegetation clearing rate which is measured in hectares per year (ha/yr) for each reporting period. Clearing rates are rounded to the nearest 1000ha/yr and percentages rounded to the nearest whole percentage.

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for Queensland in 2014–2015 was 296,000ha/yr. This represented a 91% increase from the 2011–2012 woody vegetation clearing rate of 155,000ha/yr and the highest woody vegetation clearing rate since 2005–2006. The 2014–2015 woody vegetation clearing rate was also similar to the previous 2013–2014 woody vegetation clearing rate of 295,000ha/yr.

The Brigalow Belt bioregion recorded the highest woody vegetation clearing rate with 130,000ha/yr in 2014–2015. This represented 44% of the total statewide clearing and was nearly double the 2011–2012 reporting period (89,000ha/yr).

The second highest clearing rate occurred in the Mulga Lands bioregion with 65,000ha/yr. This was 22% of the total statewide clearing. This was a decrease of 39% from 2013–2014, but more than a 2-fold increase from the 2011–2012 reporting period.

Pasture remained the dominant replacement land cover class, making up to 91% of total statewide clearing in 2014–2015 with 269,000ha/yr. Replacement for forestry and cropping followed at about 5% and 1%, respectively for the state.

Brigalow Belt

The Brigalow Belt (BRB) bioregion recorded the highest rate of clearing across Queensland in 2014–2015 at 130,000 hectares per year (ha/yr). This was 44% of the state total.

Although this figure was similar to 2013–2014 (132,000ha/yr), the latest clearing rate was nearly twice the clearing rate of 89,000ha/yr from the 2011–2012 reporting period.

The vast majority of replacement land cover was pasture at 120,000ha/yr or 92% of the total clearing.

Cropping, at 4000ha/yr, was the second highest land cover replacement. This was more than a 13-fold increase since 2011–2012.

Cape York Peninsula

The woody vegetation clearing rate for 2014–2015 in the Cape York Peninsula (CYP) bioregion was 3,000 hectares per year (ha/yr). The clearing rate increased by 29% since 2013–2014, while the rate increased by 84% since 2011-2012.

Pasture, at 2000ha/yr, replaced mining as the largest replacement land cover class in CYP. This corresponded to a near five-fold increase from 2013–2014 in pasture conversion, similar to the increase from 2011–2012.

Clearing for mining purposes decreased by 45% since the previous reporting period, and decreased by 12% since 2011–2012.

Central Queensland Coast

The woody vegetation clearing rate for the Central Queensland Coast (CQC) bioregion was 3,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) for 2014–2015. This marked an overall increase of 65% from the previous reporting period, and a two-fold increase from 2011–2012.

Clearing for pasture accounted for 63% of replacement land cover, while forestry accounted for 33%.

Channel Country

The woody vegetation clearing rate in the Channel Country (CHC) bioregion was 1,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was a two-fold increase from the previous reporting period, and a nine-fold increase from the 2011–2012 reporting period.

As with all previous reporting periods, pasture was the highest woody vegetation replacement land over, and in 2014–2015, accounted for all clearing.

Desert Uplands

The woody vegetation clearing rate for the Desert Uplands (DEU) bioregion for 2014–2015 was 19,000 hectares per year (ha/yr). This was a 36% increase over 2013–2014 and a two-fold increase from 2011–2012.

As with each reporting period since 2011–2012, replacement land cover to pasture accounted for almost all of the total woody vegetation clearing in DEU.

Einasleigh Uplands

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for the Einasleigh Uplands (EIU) bioregion was 3,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was a 42% increase from the previous reporting period, and a two-fold increase since 2011–2012.

Replacement land cover to pasture accounted for most of the clearing in the bioregion at 87% of the total clearing.

The second highest replacement land cover in EIU was clearing for crops at 10% of the total clearing.

Gulf Plains

The woody vegetation clearing rate for the Gulf Plains (GUP) bioregion was 18,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was 5 times more than in the previous reporting period and almost an 8-fold increase since 2011–2012.

The vast majority of GUP clearing was for pasture.

Mitchell Grass Downs

The woody vegetation clearing rate in the Mitchell Grass Downs (MGD) bioregion was 26,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was almost double the previous clearing rate, and was a four-fold increase since 2011–2012.

Pasture was almost entirely the replacement land cover in 2014–2015, and this followed a similar pattern since 2011–2012.

Mulga Lands

The Mulga Lands (MUL) bioregion recorded the second highest total woody vegetation clearing across Queensland at 65,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was 22% of the total statewide clearing. This was a decrease of 39% from 2013–2014, but more than a 2-fold increase from the 2011–2012 reporting period.

The majority of clearing was for pasture replacement land cover, and follows a similar pattern since 2011–2012.

New England Tableland

The New England Tableland (NET) bioregion recorded a woody vegetation clearing rate of 4,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was more than a 3-fold increase on the previous reporting period and nearly a 2-fold increase from 2011–2012.

The dominant replacement land cover class continued to be pasture, representing 96% of the total woody vegetation clearing in the region, with replacement to forestry representing another 3%.

Northwest Highlands

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for Northwest Highlands (NWH) bioregion was less than 1000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was a decrease of 23% from the previous 2013–2014 reporting period, and a 41% decrease from 2011–2012.

Clearing for pasture and mining were the only recorded replacement land cover classes in NWH at 69% and 31% of the total clearing, respectively.

Southeast Queensland

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for the South East Queensland (SEQ) bioregion was 21,000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was an increase of 54% from the previous period, and double the clearing rate from 2011–2012.

Forestry was the dominant replacement land cover class at 54%, while pasture made up 35% of the total clearing, respectively.

Wet Tropics

The woody vegetation clearing rate in the Wet Tropics (WET) bioregion was 1000 hectares per year (ha/yr) in 2014–2015. This was similar to the figures in 2013–2014 and 2011–2012.

Forestry continued to be the largest replacement land cover in 2014–2015 at 57% of the total clearing for the bioregion, but a 24% decrease from 2011–2012.

More information:

Indicator: Land use resulting in clearing and its impact on woody native vegetation

Reporting on native vegetation clearing types, using information from the Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS). SLATS monitors Queensland's forests and woodlands to assess vegetation extent and clearing activities reported. SLATS reporting period ranges annually from 1988–2015. Data is current as at July–October 2015.

Proportion of total woody vegetation clearing, by bioregion

YearBrigalow BeltCape York PeninsulaCentral Queensland CoastChannel CountryDesert UplandsEinasleigh UplandsGulf PlainsMitchell Grass DownsMulga LandsNew England TablelandNorthwest HighlandsSoutheast QueenslandWet Tropics

Proportion of replacement landcover (clearing type)

YearCropForestryInfrastructureMiningPastureSettlement

Download data from Queensland Government data