Geo-park plan rings alarm bells for North Qld graziers
A plan to declare the entire Etheridge Shire in Far North Queensland as a ‘global geo-park’ is ringing alarm bells for local graziers, AgForce said today.
AgForce Northern President Russell Lethbridge, who lives in the Etheridge Shire, said cattle production was the predominant industry in the shire and graziers wanted to know how a geo-park declaration would impact on their businesses.
“The Etheridge Shire Council has announced they will seek a geo-park registration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), but haven’t properly explained what it all means and how it will affect development opportunities,” he said.
“Graziers have seen how the Queensland Government have used UNESCO as a justification for tougher vegetation management restrictions, so are understandably suspicious about a plan to declare a UNESCO ‘Global Geopark’ over an area of some 40,000 square kilometres.
“AgForce has been inundated with calls from Far North graziers who want to know how a geo-park registration would impact on what they can and can’t do on their land, while there are also concerns about how this will affect the Gilbert River irrigated agricultural precinct.
“This issue is generating a lot of heat and has united graziers in the Etheridge Shire like no other issue I’ve seen before, so it is important the council and proponents of the geopark explain the motivation behind the proposal.
” Mr Lethbridge said AgForce had responded to the groundswell of concern by organising a meeting at the Georgetown Town Hall from 2pm on Friday 16th June to discuss the geo-park proposal.
“All landholders in the Etheridge Shire are invited to attend to tell us their views about the geo-park proposal, and to ask questions of council representatives,” he said.
“Graziers currently have more questions than answers and the meeting is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about the proposal and for proponents to outline their case.
“AgForce is committed to getting all the information to landholders so they can better understand the issue and make an informed decision based on all the facts.”