SYDNEY, Nov. 24 — A proprietor of a cattle station in Australia’s Queensland State has been accused of logging 60 hectares of protected forest near the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
Federal authorities are investigating the Wombionn Station, which is owned by Warren Jonsson, for clearing land without approval.
Drone footage filmed in October showed a vast area of land in the protected GBR catchment has been cleared, allegedly without the government approval to do so. Wombinoo has applied for permission to clear 500 hectares of land but is still awaiting approval.
A 2016 environmental assessment of the site found that the forest was home to a population of Greater Gliders as well as a series of other protected or endangered species. There is also a high chance the forest is home to koalas, the assessment found.
“None of this has been approved under the Federal Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, so matters of national environmental significance have not even been considered,” Gemma Plesman from conservation group the Wilderness Society told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.
“We have asked the state and federal authorities to undertake an urgent investigation to look into whether or not there has been a breach of Federal Environmental Law, we do suspect there has been.”
The station has made another application to clear a further 2, 700 hectares of land.
A spokesperson for Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said land clearing was a federal issue in instances “where land clearing is likely to significantly impact defined matters of national environmental significance such as listed threatened species or the Great Barrier Reef.”