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Habitat loss threatens Qld species further

AAP logoAAP 13/08/2016 By Jamie McKinnell

Almost two dozen of Queensland's native species have had an upgrade to their threatened status as the government continues to drum up support for tougher vegetation clearing laws.

Alarming recommendations this week from the government's committee charged with assessing flora and fauna include listing the Bramble Cay melomys as extinct after its far north Queensland home was inundated in a storm surge.

Griffith University's Professor Darryl Jones said it was crucial scientists questioned why more species were being lost, given Australia already holds the unenviable record for losing the most mammals.

"We now need to really take seriously what those threatening processes are and one of the most important ones, without any question at all, is the loss of their habitat," he said in Brisbane on Saturday.

"We must do something about it."

Dr Jones said the species under threat came from all over the state but a common thread was their reliance on eucalypt forests.

Environment minister Dr Steven Miles has asked the committee to examine the impact of tree clearing on threatened species over the next three months.

The Palaszczuk government is lobbying for support of its tougher vegetation management laws, which would effectively reverse the former Liberal National Party's (LNP) relaxed 2013 framework.

The change was on Saturday revealed to be all the more crucial to the Great Barrier Reef, with reports tougher regulation was a key part of the government's effort to keep the reef off UNESCO's "in danger" list.

Dr Miles again defended the reforms against ongoing suggestion they will hurt farmers.

"It is not the case that these laws will impact on agricultural profitability," Dr Miles said.

He said sediment pollution created by tree clearing damaged the reef and pleaded with MPs to consider the contribution the it makes to Queensland's tourism industry.

"I think every single MP should take that into account when they consider how they will vote on these laws," he said.

Recent government figures showed the amount of trees being cleared had almost doubled to about 300,000 hectares since the LNP's changes.

The opposition's natural resources spokesman Andrew Cripps said Dr Miles was unfairly painting farmers as environmental vandals.

"Steven Miles' comments today that Labor's draconian vegetation laws won't affect agricultural productivity are astonishingly misleading," he said.

Mr Cripps said under Labor's changes, routine farming tasks such as clearing vegetation to build fences and harvesting livestock fodder would be impacted.

The LNP's laws offered hope to indigenous communities striving for economic independence by allowing them to establish agricultural industries on their land, he said.

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