WHEN Boonah landholder Bruce Wagner began studying vegetation maps for the closely settled Boonah district he was horrified.
“Tell me, can you see even a single brigalow tree down there?” Mr Wagner asked, indicating a small clump of vegetation in a cow paddock, but marked bright pink on his vegetation map.
“I don’t know about you, but all I can see is mostly grass, lantana, some wild tobacco, and a couple of silky oak trees. About the only thing I can’t see are the brigalow trees that the mapping identifies.
“But this is what we are up against. We’re being told weeds are endangered trees and too often the areas of trees they want to protect aren’t even on the maps.”
Not only was the mapping wrong, in some instances it showed species of trees that did not even grow in the district.
“I’ve certainly never heard of any belah trees around here,” he said.
Mr Wagner said after a number of phone calls and visits by departmental officers, some of the more blatant errors in the mapping were corrected.
“So much for the accuracy of satellite technology and desktop computer studies,” Mr Wagner said.
“What I am told by the people who do these studies is they have great difficulty determining which type of tree is which. Where they’re in doubt it just seems they map based on their best guess.”
Mr Wagner said that confusion about inaccurately identified vegetation could cause problems for land owners who only wished to maintain their properties.
“The trouble is if someone goes and clears some weeds they are potentially going to run into trouble with the vegetation laws and be demonised for illegal tree clearing,” he said.
A Natural Resources Department spokesperson said staff had provided advice and assistance to Mr Wagner on multiple occasions.
“If a landholder believes the mapping of their property’s vegetation is incorrect, they can apply for a Property Map of Assessable Vegetation from qld.gov.au/environment/land/vegetation/map-correction.
“...Advice (to Mr Wagner) included information on how landholders can clear vegetation to control weeds using an accepted development clearing code, previously called a self-assessable code.”
Mr Wagner said he had often used fire as a tool to manage timbered areas.
“We have a great relationship with the national parks people and we all recognise the need to keep a good body of ground cover under the trees to maintain the biodiversity,” he said. “Once the weeds and trees get away we’ve lost it all.”
The departmental spokesperson said non-native weeds were not regulated by vegetation management laws.
“Landholders can selectively remove these weeds without approval,” she said.
She said the vegetation management maps Mr Wagner complained about were developed using mapping provided by the Queensland Herbarium.
“The Queensland Herbarium is responsible for surveying, mapping and classifying into 1386 regional ecosystems across the state and are the subject of ecological research condition assessment and monitoring,” she said.