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Mar 22, 2010

Can’t see the Grass for the Trees?

Cartoon: Eric Allie.

By Viv Forbes, Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition.

The Carbon Sense Coalition today called on the Australian Parliament to repeal the vegetation clearing bans before Australia’s productive grasslands are lost to woody weeds.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that the Kyoto bans were introduced deviously by state governments acting as stooges for the federal government to deprive landowners of potential carbon credits without paying compensation.

“Now they are creating a growing public liability as trees invade ancestral grasslands.

“Every continent in the world had vast native grasslands, often treeless, kept free of trees by lightning fires, and supporting huge populations of herbivores and their dependent predators. The treeless Prairies supported bison and antelope; the Pampas supported deer and camelids; the Veldts supported wildebeest, zebra and antelopes; and Australia’s grasslands supported kangaroos and emus.

“Trees and grasses are in continual competition for soil space and access to solar energy. Old journals, diaries, sketches and photos can attest the fact that there are now more trees in Australian grasslands than there were 100 years ago. Some properties can document the substantial tree invasion even since the first aerial photos were taken in the 1950’s. This invasion has accelerated since governments started meddling in vegetation control.

“Human settlers, both black and white, have learned that fires were essential to re-invigorate the grasslands and control their invasion by trees. But with closer settlement, there are reduced opportunities to use fires to control trees and landowners must use machinery to protect their grass.

“White settlement in Australia has brought two major changes to vegetation. Firstly, in the forests and scrubs along the coast, timber getters and small selectors cleared the fertile soil for crops and farms. Human development and infrastructure ensure that these forests seldom recovered. Secondly, scrubby regrowth and trees have invaded much of the grassland and open forest.

“If governments want to turn back the vegetation clock, they should be removing towns, roads, railways, schools, orchards, housing developments, cultivation and market gardens from the once forested coastal areas to allow coastal forests to re-establish. But this would lose too many votes, so they advocate accelerated destruction of our ancient grasslands. Their hope is that this will gain more votes from tree huggers than will be lost from grass farmers, where there are few votes to lose.

“Today the grasslands support domesticated grazing animals and farms of cultivated grasses and legumes that are essential food sources for humans. Invasion of Australia’s grasslands by eucalypt weeds is destroying our ability to produce food, which will show up in the cities as rising food prices and declining jobs.

“These bans can have no long term effect on greenhouse gases. They will reduce food production and slash property values. They are cynical exercises in vote buying and international grandstanding which should be immediately abandoned.”

“If action is not taken we will soon reach a state where we can’t see the grass for the trees.”

For a fuller discussion of “Grasses, Trees, Climate and Food” see here:

Disclosure: Viv Forbes and his wife own and live on a freehold sheep and cattle grazing property at Rosevale in Queensland. The tree population on this property has increased greatly during their occupation. The property is affected by vegetation management plans prepared without any consultation with the owners.


  1. I love that cartoon; the old Monty Python Black Knight bit. How appropriate for Owl Gore and his herd of minions.

  2. It often surprises me how many times I can find something appropriate in cartoons to match posts. I think there must be a great many cartoonists out there sharing our thoughts.