The Australian government questions the extent of deforestation in Queensland

The Australian government questions the extent of deforestation in Queensland

This was the first big promise at the Glasgow Climate Summit: More than a hundred countries decided to end deforestation by 2030. This is a big step, because 10% of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. The Australian delegation also signed the plan.

But according to a new analysis by the Australian newspaper The Guardian, the extent of deforestation in Australia is unclear. The state government records less deforestation than the Queensland government, where most trees are cut down. This could mean that deforestation is more common in Australia than previously thought.

Poldersborn

Martin Taylor, a lecturer in conservation policy at the University of Queensland, compared the state’s government figures with those in Canberra. “I have found at least 53 sites where the state says deforestation has occurred, but the national government says the forest has not been affected,” Taylor said from his office in Brisbane. “Of course it’s strange. That’s why I took satellite images and it clearly shows that large parts of the forest have disappeared. You can even see bulldozer tracks from space.”

Nature organizations have been warning for years against widespread logging in Australia. According to them, especially in the east of the country, deforestation is as large as the Amazon and Borneo. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Australia is the only developed country in the list of countries with the most deforestation.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has reacted cautiously positively to the Australian government’s intention to end deforestation. According to Dermot O’Gorman, director of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Australia, there is still a lot to gain. “In 2018, Australia razed at least 370,000 hectares of forest,” he said. That’s three quarters of a million football fields. So this plan must be quickly pursued with rapid joint action.”

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Koalas are in danger

The trees that are cut down in Australia mainly give way to intensive livestock farming. Australia has 24 million cows, roughly equal to the population. In Queensland, 73 per cent of deforestation is linked to livestock for beef production. This has consequences for greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting down trees releases carbon dioxide and cows emit methane.

In addition, the disappearance of forests has dire consequences for the vulnerable animals that depend on this region. Koalas are particularly affected by habitat loss. The lovable Australian animals usually need a relatively large eucalyptus forest to survive. The loss of living space is one of the main reasons why the iconic creature is now endangered.

The koala population has declined by 30 percent in the past three years. In addition to deforestation, this also has to do with the devastating wildfires that occurred two years ago. Millions of hectares of forest were set ablaze, including three billion animals. In addition, a large number of koalas suffer from chlamydia, which makes them seriously ill and infertile. According to research by the New South Wales state government, koalas will become extinct before 2050 without much intervention.

cheat countries

The national government has yet to respond to an investigation that shows there is a difference between the Queensland and government figures. As far as researcher Taylor is concerned, the national measurement method leaves much to be desired. “It’s an enigma to me. How can a country say that trees have been cut down while the national government says the forest is healthy? Then there’s something seriously wrong with the Australian government’s model.”

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Australia is not the only country where calculation methods are sometimes used creatively. This week, The Washington Post published a study showing that many countries cheat to get the best possible result. According to the researchers, there is a global gap of at least 8.5 billion to 13.3 billion tons of unreported emissions annually. This means that global warming may be much faster than currently thought.

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