In the course of four years, deforestation cleared 596,000 hectares in the Great Barrier Reef catchment zone. Official energy and environment data shows that the area which is twice more than the size of Australian Capital Territory has been cleared from July 2012 to June 2016.
Labor’s environment spokesman, Tony Burke, said “land clearing of this scale should never have been permitted. It’s a destruction of habitat and a disaster for the Great Barrier Reef.”
He added, “The Liberal party seems to think that they can turn a blind eye to the destruction of the environment and runoff into the Great Barrier Reef and then throw money to private organizations and pretend that the vandalism never occurred.”
Conservationists are appalled by the figures and disappointed over the failure of the Turnbull government to control deforestation. “This revelation is a moment of reckoning for the Turnbull government. If they care at all about Great Barrier Reef water quality, they must rein in the bulldozers starting today.”
The corals are exposed to great risks because deforestation causes sediment and nutrient to be drained directly into the reef thereby stimulating algae growth. Poor water quality is a great threat to the existence of the Great Barrier Reef. Environment groups are lobbying for the government to impose stricter measures in order to uphold environmental laws.
The Greens’ environment and biodiversity representative, Andrew Bartlett, stated “We need to do a lot better with regards to controlling land clearing”.
“Those figures are staggering and it shows both the need to strengthen the existing laws federally and better enforce what’s already there,” he said.
“We’re already on record wanting strong improvements in this area, but these figures show it’s all the more urgent.”
Last March, the government pledged $500M for the improvement of the reef’s health. They announced that $444M of that funding will be given to Great Barrier Reef Foundation.