Nature no refuge against mining

A rare Black Orchid on the under-threat Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
A rare Black Orchid on the under-threat Bimblebox Nature Refuge.

AGFORCE, landholders and conservation groups united yesterday in an emergency press conference calling for the protection of Queensland nature refuges against mining.

Alpha's Bimblebox Nature Refuge owner Paola Cassoni spearheaded a group of concerned and angry parties who felt "betrayed" by the State Government "shamefully abandoning the conservation covenants they signed with landholders".

Bimblebox is currently under threat from Waratah Coal's proposed China First Coal Project.

National Parks Association of Queensland executive co-ordinator Paul Donatiu said more and more people were becoming outraged by the situation occurring at Bimblebox.

"Nature refuges need some form of protection that is equivalent to national parks," Mr Donatiu said.

"Landholders need to know they have protection from mining if they join the nature refuge program… excuse the pun, but what the government is doing is completely undermining the nature refuge program."

On Sunday, the State Government announced through the Queensland Biodiversity Strategy its intention to increase land under the nature refuge program to 7mHa by 2020.

There are currently 398 nature refuges in the state that cover about 2.8mHa of land - about half the size of Tasmania.

Mr Donatiu said he felt the goal to double the nature refuge land was unreachable unless landholders knew they were getting some form of protection by joining the program.

"It's inconsistent, they are saying one thing but the reality is there is no incentive for landholders to get involved if they aren't given protection from mining," Mr Donatiu said.

"If the government has duty of care and is serious about protecting nature refuges, then it shouldn't allow mineral or mining exploration on them." He said over 400 submissions will be lodged on the issue of protecting Bimblebox during the China First public comment phase of its Environmental Impact Statement.

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