19 June 2024


The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has welcomed the release of Cattle Australia’s (CA) Land Management Commitment Information Paper as an important step to address the issue of deforestation in Australia.

The peak body for grass-fed cattle producers released the paper for consultation on Friday in response to growing global demands for deforestation-free beef.

It outlines a proposed approach to understanding and applying definitions related to deforestation in Australia’s beef industry.

“It’s great to see CA putting deforestation on the agenda and pulling together a diverse group of stakeholders to address the issue for the Australian beef industry,” said Sharelle Polack, WWF-Australia’s Senior Manager of Sustainable Agriculture.

“Deforestation-free beef represents an opportunity for Australia’s beef producers.

“There is a growing market for deforestation-free products. Over 6000 companies globally have signed up for the Science Based Targets initiative, which requires companies to remove products linked to deforestation from their sales.

“Banks are also increasingly required to report on how their operations are linked to deforestation, with flow-on effects to lending.

“Deforestation is one of the big drivers of Australia’s extinction crisis.

“Beef producers are important stewards of vast areas of Australia and are well placed to help tackle this crisis.”

While acknowledging CA’s work to address deforestation, Ms Polack said parts of the consultation paper would need to be changed to align with domestic and international market requirements.

For example, the paper proposes that clearing forests that have grown since 1990 should not be considered deforestation by international supply chains.

“It’s simply not credible to be clearing 30-year-old trees while claiming this is deforestation-free,” said Ms Polack.

“These forests often provide homes to native animals and should be protected.

“In its current form, the consultation paper blurs the lines between what CA would like to see as requirements and what the markets are actually demanding.

“This makes it hard for producers and the whole beef supply chain to adopt the paper with confidence that it will actually meet market requirements.

“While there are some issues to resolve, starting these conversations and seeking feedback is a step in the right direction.

“WWF believes there is a way forward where producers can undertake land management activities suitable for the unique Australian landscape while also meeting market requirements.

“Parts of the CA paper need further work to strike this balance.”

WWF-Australia will be providing a submission to CA through the consultation process.