Channel Country

Advocating for increased protection of wildlife habitat in Queensland.

 

Pelicans, Channel Country, Queensland Image by: Richard Kingsford

Prevent Gas Fracking In Western Queensland

The Queensland Government continues to ignore its commitment to protecting the Channel Country. Unconventional gas fracking can still occur on fragile floodplains and wetlands. This will damage vast areas of natural habitat, threatening the survival of millions of birds.

It’s time for Queenslanders to speak up.

Water Brings Life To The Outback

Extending across the shires of Barcoo, Boulia, and Diamantina, the Channel Country covers 200,000 km2 of far-western Queensland. 

 

The rainfall here is normally low. But during the wet season, this flat country is transformed. The Diamantina and Georgina Rivers and Cooper Creek begin to flow, flooding the surrounding land. 

 

Gas fracking puts this vital landscape under threat.

These floodplains are of global importance—a place where more than 80 species of waterbirds and migratory birds gather and breed.

 

During major breeding events, up to ten million birds rely on finding this water in remote Australia. This includes iconic species, such as the rare Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa, Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia, and Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus

Banded Stilts in flight, Channel Country, Queensland. Image by Geoffrey Jones

“The Channel Country has incredible biodiversity, with lots of waterbirds, including Australian Painted Snipe, Red-capped Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and Red-necked Stints.

 

The Lake Eyre Basin rivers are among the few rivers around the world which are largely intact, flowing from northern Australia down to Lake Eyre. Rivers and wetlands in the Lake Eyre Basin need to continue to deliver their water naturally for indigenous communities, landholders, and this wonderful channel country environment.”

 

– Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of Centre for Ecosystem Science, University of New South Wales.

What Makes Gas Fracking Disastrous

Unconventional gas fracking involves drilling into the earth and directing large volumes of high-pressure water and toxic chemicals at the rock to release the gas inside.

Every gas well requires a well pad, all-weather road and pipeline, and sometimes a storage pond. Even low barriers cause major changes to the floodplain, disconnecting and diverting water away from natural wetlands and waterholes.

Groundwater is already being used faster than it is replenished. Fracking draws huge amounts of water directly from the basin and its associated freshwater springs. Access to reliable water is vital to agricultural production and overall ecosystem health. A UN report estimates that a single frack operation on a shale gas well will use between 11 and 34 million litres of water. Thousands of wells will be fracked several times.

Chemicals may escape during drilling and contaminate the Great Artesian Basin, impacting wildlife, birds, and aquatic systems.  Spills of fracking fluids can occur at drill sites or during transportation. Even small amounts of contamination can degrade downstream breeding habitats and accumulate in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.

The field in bloom, Channel Country. Image by: Angus Emmott

“Gas and petroleum activities in the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin are incompatible with its globally unique ecological values, particularly in the sensitive floodplains, rivers, and basins. They also seriously undermine the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and should be prohibited. “

 

Adjunct Professor Rob Fowler, Conservation Representative, Lake Eyre Basin Community Advisory Committee.

Ready To Stand With Experts?

It only takes minutes to sign our petition and challenge the Queensland Government to step up.

This is a Queensland Parliament Petition open to citizens and residents of Queensland only. Residents of other states can help protect the Channel Country by signing this petition: https://www.westernrivers.org.au/

A Snapshot of A Vibrant Landscape

Budgies in Flock. Image by: Angus Emmott

“Free flowing water is essential for our natural systems, from here in the Vergemont Channels all the way to the rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin. The unfortunate mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin should be warning enough. The channel country must not be fracked.”


Angus Emmott, Channel Country landholder, and respected naturalist

A Dire Threat To The Irreplaceable Channel Country

Over the past decade, successive governments have removed and relaxed protections for the Channel Country.

Unconventional gas fracking can occur in these places of significant biodiversity. This is the single largest threat to the health of Queensland’s Channel Country and the rivers that recharge the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin.

Gas companies are already conducting exploratory exercises in the floodplains. Urgent intervention is needed to prevent the expansion of unconventional gas fracking into this fragile region.

Corellas in flock. Image by: Angus Emmott

Under Threat and Without Protection

In the past, the Channel Country’s rivers, floodplains, and wetlands were legally protected under the Wild Rivers Act 2005. But in 2014, this Act was revoked by the former Newman LNP government.

 

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has committed to legally protecting Channel Country rivers and floodplains in 2015, 2017, and 2020 elections.

 

These election commitments have not yet been delivered. The rivers and floodplains in the Channel Country are now at risk of being irreversibly damaged by unconventional gas and other resource development projects which are currently being assessed by government agencies.

Ready To Fight For Something Worth Saving?

When you sign this petition, you help to hold the Queensland Government accountable for meeting their election commitments. The petition asks the Queensland Government to listen to scientists and naturalists and prohibit unconventional gas fracking in this sensitive environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gas fracking could have a devastating impact on the floodplains and rivers of the Channel Country. Drilling will result in an industrialised landscape, threatening the nature, water and people that characterise this extraordinary region. 

 

Many fracking chemicals are known to be toxic and many others have not been assessed for their long-term impacts on the environment.

 

To understand how the locals feel about gas fracking visit https://www.lockthegate.org.au/about_coal_seam_gas.

Traditional Owners from the Lake Eyre Basin have articulated their position on the Queensland Government’s Pristine Rivers election commitment:

 

“We want our rivers to remain free-flowing and our floodplains protected from fracking.” 

 

Visit https://our-water-our-future.com/ to hear more from the Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner Alliance. 

 

Protect the Bush Alliance acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Channel Country. We recognise their ongoing connection to land and waters, and pay our respect to Elders past and present. We also recognise that these are unceded lands that always were, and always will be, Aboriginal land.