Locking graziers out of national parks will cripple graziers and increase the risk of bushfires, says one Central Queensland grazing family.
For nearly a century, farmers have been able to lease National Park land in Queensland to graze their cattle.
Proposed changes to the Queensland Nature Conservation Act could change that.
For more than 40 years, the Maynes have been leasing a small section of Carnarvon Gorge National Park to graze their herd.
But a recent State Government decision not to renew their lease means they will have to remove their stock by the end of next month.
“We’ll lose about 60,000 acres out of about 88,000 acres of usable land,” Struan Mayne said.
“It’s hard to know exactly what effect it will have but at this stage we’re predicting about 30 per cent of our herd will have to be reduced.”
About 80 families could lose their leases to graze in national parks if amendments to the Nature Conservation Act are passed in Parliament.
‘Grazing is inconsistent with national park tenure’
State Environment Minister Steven Miles said the amendments would ensure national parks were set aside for nature conservation, and that all existing grazing leases would be allowed to expire naturally.
“It’s our general view that grazing is inconsistent with the national park tenure,” he said.
“It’s about saying that national parks really are the top tier of protection that we give to conservation land and that, generally speaking, grazing isn’t consistent with that tenure.
“Cattle cause substantial compaction and erosion to these native habitats so the longer you leave cattle within these areas, the more opportunity there is to do damage to those rare and threatened species populations.”
Mr Miles said farmers leasing other conservation land need not be worried.
“The vast bulk of graziers who have leases to graze on state conservation land will be unaffected by this,” he said.
“The vast bulk graze on state forest and we’re not talking about making changes there.”
Mr Mayne said he believed the parks would be worse off under the policy change.
Under his lease conditions he has been responsible for fire, weed and pest management.
“We’ve been doing such a good job and the proof is in the state of the national park,” he said.
“If they come out and have a look at the state it’s in at the end of what could be considered a fairly decent drought in the area and it’s still in magnificent shape, they would surely know we’re doing a very good, very sustainable job.”
He said he had invited rangers out to inspect the property several times, but had never received a response.