LARGER-THAN-LIFE mining billionaire Clive Palmer has come under fire over comments about an 8000ha nature refuge near Alpha that stands in the way of his $8 billion China First mega mine.
The always-vocal Mr Palmer claimed Bimblebox Nature Refuge had been "completely destroyed" by decades of grazing and was not worth protecting.
"The pastoralists left that to the green movement, and the Bligh government - who was very, very anti-conservation - took four years to grade it as a reserve," Mr Palmer said.
But landholders and conservation groups were left dumbfounded by Mr Palmer's claims, which they said were completely untrue.
Firstly, it emerged Bimblebox was declared under the Peter Beattie-led government in 2003. And it was the federal Liberal government under John Howard that deemed its biodiversity sufficient enough to invest more than $300,000 towards its protection.
The National Parks Association of Queensland has called on federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to 'directly intervene' and protect the nature refuge following a recent survey it completed that showcased Bimblebox's "extraordinary biodiversity".
"Ninety-five per cent of the land there is uncleared vegetated land," NPAQ executive coordinator Paul Donatiu said.
"In two days we found over 220 different plant species.
"That is an amazing outcome and the opposite of what Clive Palmer is suggesting.
"To hear Clive's comments, it is almost as though he is talking about the neighbouring properties because from what we recorded it certainly doesn't reflect Bimblebox.
"Mining would completely destroy the refuge and set a dangerous precedent."
In 2000, the property was bought by a small group of concerned landholders to save it from being cleared.
Co-owner Paola Cassoni said only about 5% of the Desert Uplands bioregion was under protection.
"To suggest it has been destroyed by grazing is misleading and wrong," Ms Cassoni said.
"Grazing has been here for over 150 years very sparingly; it has been used for management under guidelines."
Mr Donatiu said Bimblebox was a good example of low-level grazing for conservation.
There are no Queensland nature refuges protected from mining.
The Environmental Impact Statement for the China First Coal Project is currently being assessed by the State Government.
The campaign to save Bimblebox was recently recognised in a film of the same name by award-winning US filmmaker Michael O'Connell.
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