print terrestrial ecosystems

Land clearing impact on woody vegetation

Key finding

In 2015–2016, 395,000 hectares per year (ha/year) of woody vegetation was cleared, statewide. This represented a 33% increase from 2014–2015, and was the highest woody vegetation clearing rate since 2003–2004 (490,000ha/year).

Queensland

The Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) uses Landsat satellite imagery to map the location and extent of woody vegetation clearing that is the result of human removal of vegetation across the entire state of Queensland.

All clearing in this text refers to an annualised woody vegetation clearing rate that is measured in hectares per year (ha/year) based on a 1 August–1 August period.

Clearing rates are rounded to the nearest 1000ha/year. Percentages are calculated using actual clearing rates, and then rounded to the nearest whole percentage.

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for Queensland in 2015–2016 was 395,000ha/year. This represented a 33% increase from the 2014–2015 woody vegetation clearing rate of 298,000ha/year and was the highest woody vegetation clearing rate since 2003–2004 (490,000ha/year).

Clearing of remnant woody vegetation increased by 21% from 114,000ha/year in 2014–2015 to 138,000ha/year in 2015–2016. This represented 35% of total statewide woody vegetation clearing.

Clearing of non-remnant woody vegetation across the state was 257,000ha/year in 2015–2016, an increase of 39% from 2014–2015 (185,000ha/year). This represented 65% of total statewide woody vegetation clearing.

Pasture remained the dominant replacement land cover class, representing 93% of total statewide clearing in 2015–2016. The replacement land cover classes of forestry and cropping followed at about 4% and 1% respectively, statewide.

Brigalow Belt

The Brigalow Belt (BRB) bioregion recorded the highest rate of woody vegetation clearing across Queensland in 2015–2016 at 207,000 hectares per year (ha/year). This was 52% of the statewide total. This represented a 57% increase from the woody vegetation clearing rate in 2014–2015 (132,000ha/year).

The rate of remnant woody vegetation clearing was 45,000ha/year, and represented an increase of 38% from the 2014–2015 figure of 33,000ha/year.

Non-remnant woody vegetation clearing in the BRB increased by 63% between 2014–2015 and 2015–2016.

Pasture at 93% was the dominant replacement land cover class of the total clearing.

Cropping was the second highest land cover replacement class at 2% of total clearing within BRB.

Cape York Peninsula

The woody vegetation clearing rate for 2015–2016 in the Cape York Peninsula (CYP) bioregion was 2,000 hectares per year (ha/year), a 30% decrease from 2014–2015.

In 2015–2016, most of the woody vegetation clearing in CYP was remnant (88% of total clearing).

Mining replaced pasture as the dominant replacement land cover class in CYP, representing 49% of total clearing.

The pasture replacement land cover class decreased by 67% from the previous reporting period to 31%.

Central Queensland Coast

The woody vegetation clearing rate for the Central Queensland Coast (CQC) bioregion was 4,000 hectares per year (ha/year) for 2015–2016. This represented a 43% increase in the clearing rate since 2014–2015.

Clearing of remnant and non-remnant woody vegetation increased by 43% and 44% respectively, since the 2014–2015 mapping period.

Remnant clearing made up 31% of total clearing in CQC for 2015–2016.

The dominant replacement land cover classes were pasture and forestry at 50% and 46%, respectively.

Channel Country

The woody vegetation clearing rate in the Channel Country (CHC) bioregion was less than 1,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This was a 71% decrease from the previous reporting period.

The rate of remnant woody vegetation clearing in 2015–2016 decreased by 80% compared to 2014–2015. In contrast, non-remnant clearing increased significantly. Clearing of remnant woody vegetation in 2015–2016 accounted for 67% of total clearing in CHC.

As with all previous reporting periods, pasture was the dominant replacement land cover class, accounting for 99% of total clearing in 2015–16.

Desert Uplands

The woody vegetation clearing rate for the Desert Uplands (DEU) bioregion for 2015–2016 was 33,000 hectares per year (ha/year). This represented a 70% increase over the 2014–2015 woody vegetation clearing rate of 19,000ha/year.

The remnant woody vegetation clearing rate of 17,000ha/year in 2015–2016 was a 4.6 fold increase from the 2014–2015 remnant clearing rate of 4,000ha/year.

Non-remnant woody vegetation clearing remained steady at 16,000ha/year in each period.

Remnant woody vegetation clearing accounted for 52% of total clearing in DEU for 2015–2016.

The pasture replacement land cover class accounted for almost all woody vegetation clearing in DEU.

Einasleigh Uplands

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for the Einasleigh Uplands (EIU) bioregion was 4,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This was a 61% increase from the previous reporting period.

In 2015–2016, the clearing rate of remnant woody vegetation increased by 69% to 3,000ha/year while non-remnant clearing increased by 36% from the previous period.

Remnant woody vegetation clearing made up 81% of total clearing in EIU in 2015–2016.

The pasture replacement land cover class accounted for 97% of woody vegetation clearing in the EIU bioregion.

Gulf Plains

The woody vegetation clearing rate for the Gulf Plains (GUP) bioregion was 20,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This represented a 10% increase from the woody vegetation clearing rate in 2014–2015.

The remnant woody vegetation clearing rate in the bioregion for 2015–2016 was 17,000ha/year. Remnant clearing represented 87% of total woody vegetation clearing for 2015–2016. This was a 4% decrease from the 2014–2015 clearing rate of 18,000ha/year.

Non-remnant woody vegetation clearing increased 17-fold to 3,000ha/year from 2014–2015 to 2015–2016.

Pasture was the replacement land cover class for all woody vegetation clearing in GUP.

Mitchell Grass Downs

The woody vegetation clearing rate in the Mitchell Grass Downs (MGD) bioregion was 14,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This was 46% less than the clearing rate of 26,000ha/year in 2014–2015.

Remnant woody vegetation clearing reduced by 60% from 18,000ha/year in 2014–2015 to 7,000ha/year in 2015–2016. In contrast, the non-remnant clearing rate remained fairly steady at 7,000ha/year in 2015–2016 (8,000ha/year in 2014–2015).

Pasture was the replacement land cover class for all woody vegetation clearing in MGD.

Mulga Lands

The Mulga Lands (MUL) bioregion recorded the second highest total woody vegetation clearing rate across Queensland at 86,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This was 22% of the total statewide clearing, and an increase of 30% in woody vegetation clearing from 66,000ha/year in 2014–2015.

The rate of clearing of remnant woody vegetation in 2015–2016 was 41,000ha/year (48% of total woody vegetation clearing in MUL). This represented a 32% increase in the remnant woody vegetation clearing rate from 2014–2015 (31,000ha/year).

The increase in non-remnant clearing was 29%, from 35,000ha/year in 2014–2015 to 45,000ha/year in 2015–2016.

The pasture replacement land cover class accounted for the vast majority of woody vegetation clearing in MUL.

New England Tableland

The New England Tableland (NET) bioregion recorded a woody vegetation clearing rate of 3,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This represented a 41% decrease in the woody vegetation clearing rate from the previous period.

Remnant woody vegetation clearing in this bioregion decreased between 2014–2015 and 2015–2016: in both periods, it was less than 1,000ha/year. Non-remnant clearing decreased by 37% from 3,000ha/year in 2014–2015 to 2,000ha/year in 2015–2016.

Remnant woody vegetation clearing contributed 17% of total clearing in NET for 2015–2016.

Pasture was the dominant replacement land cover class at 98% of woody vegetation clearing. Forestry made up the remainder.

Northwest Highlands

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for Northwest Highlands (NWH) bioregion was less than 1000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This represented an increase of 35% from the previous 2014–2015 reporting period.

The rate of remnant woody vegetation clearing increased by 36% between 2014–2015 and 2015–2016. The vast majority of clearing in this bioregion during 2015–2016 was classed as remnant woody vegetation (96% of total clearing).

Pasture was the dominant replacement land cover class at 92% of total woody vegetation clearing in NWH with mining making up the balance.

Southeast Queensland

The total woody vegetation clearing rate for the Southeast Queensland (SEQ) bioregion was 20,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This was a 4% decrease from the previous period.

Remnant woody vegetation clearing increased by 21% from 2,000ha/year in 2014–2015 to 3,000ha/year in 2015–2016. This represented 14% of total clearing for the 2015–2016 mapping period in SEQ. Non-remnant woody vegetation clearing slightly reduced by 7% between 2014–2015 and 2015–2016.

Forestry was the dominant replacement land cover class at 47%. Pasture made up a further 45% of the total clearing.

Wet Tropics

The total woody vegetation clearing rate in the Wet Tropics (WET) bioregion was 2,000 hectares per year (ha/year) in 2015–2016. This represented a 24% increase of woody vegetation clearing from 2014–2015 for the bioregion.

The rate of remnant woody vegetation clearing remained steady at less than 1,000ha/year in each period. Remnant woody vegetation clearing made up 14% of total clearing for 2015–2016. Non-remnant clearing increased by 31% from 1,000ha/year in 2014–2015 to 2,000ha/year in 2015–2016.

Forestry continued to be the largest replacement land cover class in 2015–2016 in the WET bioregion at 76% of the total clearing. Replacement land cover to pasture contributed 19% of the total woody vegetation clearing in 2015–2016.

More information:

Indicator: Land use resulting in clearing and its impact on woody 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 data between the first mapping period of 1988–91 and up to the most recent 2015–16 mapping period.

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

Historic woody vegetation clearing in Queensland

YearRemnantNon-Remnant

Download data from Queensland Government data

Last updated 10 May 2019