THE extreme green movement is at it again. This time saying new roads should only be built in city areas because it will help stop deforestation.
While the research is based on the Brazilian experience, the paper appears to have been widely circulated among the anti-agriculture conservation movement.
Cairns based Professor Bill Lawrence from the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, said it was well known, new roads could be both good and bad.
“On the good side, they can promote economic and social development. On the bad side, they can promote deforestation and the rapid disappearance of wilderness,” he said.
According to Prof Lawrence that meant focusing on new roads or road improvements roads in urban and nearby peri-urban areas.
“Places that already have lots of people and development,” he said. “In these places, new or improved roads cause less habitat destruction. Roads in such places are also likely to maximise social and economic benefits, according to related work.
“For instance, by making it easier for farmers near cities to get their crops to rapidly-growing urban areas – improving their lives and providing better, cheaper food for people in cities. That’s a far better outcome than new roads in active frontiers - which often cause lots of deforestation.”
Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett said the thinking was absurd.
“Here we go again. These activists and anti-rural, anti-agricultural, anti-production brigade will stop at nothing to lock up this state,” Mr Perrett said. “Living in their highly urbanised enclaves of concrete they have no concept of what it takes to enable productivity in regional areas. Transport costs are the single most financial hurdle for many rural and regional producers.”
Mr Perrett said schemes such as the Peninsula and Beef Road Schemes have opened up rural areas by bringing in industry and jobs.
“To think that by ‘focusing new roads or road improvements roads in urban and nearby peri-urban areas’ at the expense of roads in regional and rural areas is a ‘far better outcome’ is ludicrous.
AgForce CEO Mike Guerin said good transport infrastructure was absolutely vital for agribusinesses as transport makes up 30 to 40 per cent of farmers’ production costs.
“Good transport infrastructure is absolutely vital for agribusinesses as transport made up 30 to 40pc of farmers’ production costs,” Mr Guerin said.
“Quite simply, we need governments at all levels to invest more not less in regional roads to make it safer, easier and cheaper to get our farm goods from the paddock to the port or the paddock to the plate.”