Farmer groups withhold $ 9 million from the Great Barrier Reef water quality program | Ambient

Agricultural industry groups refused to show the Queensland government the results of a government-funded program that seeks to improve the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Queensland Audit Office, in a report to Parliament, said that the agricultural industry groups had withheld data on the best management practices program due to "privacy concerns" and that their effectiveness could be "exaggerated" "

The report found that "despite significant efforts" the environmental management scheme had been badumed by only 2% of cattle ranchers and 7% of cane growers. These figures are unfortunately below the 2018 target, which should have a 90% participation in priority areas of the reef basin.

The government spent $ 9.2 million in two years funding the voluntary program, which is administered by non-governmental agriculture groups. The ultimate goal is to prevent the entry of chemicals and sediments into the reef basin.

The audit office expressed concern that the success of the program could not be measured adequately because the agricultural groups receiving government funding would not provide data on whether the producers had actually improved their practices.

"This detailed information is currently in the hands of industry groups," the report said. "Although this work is funded by the government, the information is not provided to the government due to industry privacy concerns …

" These data restrictions mean that the government does not have full visibility of the progress made. and can not measure the degree of practice change or evaluate the value obtained from your investment of public funds.

"This means that the reported proportion of managed lands using the best systems of management practices could be exaggerated."

The audit report said that the government was in the process of amending the legislation to ensure that minimum environmental standards are no longer voluntary. He said that the voluntary approach had not met the water quality objectives.

The report also details how an increase in deforestation after 2015 could affect the water quality of the reefs. The removal of woody vegetation in the reef basin increased by 50% in 2015-16.

"Generally, if the clearing of trees and any badociated land use change exposes and / or alters the soil surface, the loss of water and sediment is likely to increase, depending on how the land is subsequently used, and the practices used, which could go against achieving the objectives. "

The Queensland government pbaded new laws limiting large-scale cleanup earlier this year amid fierce protests by farmers.

The Department of Environment and Science of the state has accepted the recommendations of the audit report, and said it would seek to strengthen contracts to force industrial groups to transmit data.


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