Cattle Australia Claims Clearing Forests Grown After 1990 Shouldn’t Be Considered Deforestation

The Australian cattle industry has been accused of greenwashing


2 Minutes Read

Cows on a ranch in Queensland, Australia Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Cattle Australia has drawn strong criticism from environmental groups by proposing that forests grown after 1990 should be considered acceptable to clear and not defined as deforestation. Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and the Wilderness Society are among those condemning the suggestions.

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The groups have accused the industry of trying to dilute the definition of deforestation and say the proposal is a cynical response to the rise of demand globally for products that haven’t incurred deforestation.

The environmental groups put forward a response to Cattle Australia’s consultation paper with business deforestation policy guidance, reports the Guardian.

Moving to protect the Australian beef industry

The peak body for producers of grass-fed cattle and the Australian government is looking to push back against new European Union laws regarding bans on imported goods produced in deforested land. Due to come into effect in January 2025, the laws are perceived to be a threat to the Australian beef industry. 

Cows in the outback of Australia
Adobe Stock Consumers are increasingly turning away from deforestation-linked beef

In a statement, Dr. Don Butler, an ecologist at the Australian National University, said: “It appears they (Cattle Australia) are seeking to leave as broad an avenue as possible for their membership to continue to do what a lot of other people would see as deforestation in the management of their land”.

Cattle Australia’s paper wishes to set 1990 as a baseline, meaning regrowth forests could be cleared without being defined as deforestation, including trees which are more than three decades old.

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“(The paper) is an attempt to use the concept of agriculture as a big loophole. I would encourage Cattle Australia to avoid that outcome … it would be a mistake,” Butler said.

“Continuing to bulldoze native forests and woodlands and trying to label it ‘deforestation-free’ is nothing but greenwashing, plain and simple. Banks and supermarkets should not buy into it,” Nathaniel Pelle, from the Australian Conservation Foundation, added. 

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