home print
home links print donate now join now join now
conservation wildlife projects news magazine what's on about support us contact us
conservation wildlife projects news magazine what's on about us support us contact us
home -> news -> archive -> environmental impact of floods
Budget boost for Queensland environment
All support QLD Cash for Containers
Imagining a plastic free future
EnviroGrant for Quoll Seekers
Brisbane Airport fire ant notification
A brighter future
WPSQ welcomes NSW win
A speedy recovery
Thinking plastic free this WED
All eyes on our platypus
Spot Me so far
What's changed?
Healthy nature - healthy people
No waste Games
Do you care about wildlife?
Voiceless macropod campaign
World Wildlife Day
Detection dogs: Landline seeks our two cents'
Plastics Roundtable
Cash for containers makes big splash
North Stradbroke needs your help!
Queensland Reserve System - a new way forward
Natural gift for learning
Serving wallabies at the Taunton Cafe
Action for North Stradbroke Island
Detection dogs: changing the landscape of conservation
Year of the WPSQ volunteer
Totally Wild! about gliders
SPOT ME success
A plastic bag free Queensland
Partnership with UQ continues
Hope for North Stradbroke Island
WPSQ launches new project
Bushland destruction continues
Querying nest boxes
New water plan for GAB
Squirrel gliders hang on in Brisbane’s north
Wildlife matters
State land framework facing change
Helium balloons not a hit
WPSQ's 'Top 10'
New Threatened Species Strategy
Waste update: we're winning!
Positive action on biosecurity
National parks exceed five percent
Caught on camera
There are platypuses near Brisbane?
Time to toughen biosecurity
War on waste takes in tyres
More for Moreton Bay
Busy times: no complaints
100 days to do the right thing
Help in hand for the nailtail
Becoming a Friend of Taunton
Conservation across cultures
Miles ahead already
Marine reserves' fate delayed
Another bite out of croc rights
Labor’s environmental commitments – election 2015
The LNP’s environmental commitments – election 2015
The Greens’ environmental commitments – election 2015
Join our campaign For a Plastic Bag Free Queensland
Commonwealth marine reserves put at risk by review
Is wildlife trending?
Funds handed over for Mary River turtle
More axes taken to environmental protections
Voice of the platypus finally heard
Abbott Government’s impact: time to express concerns
Will the Reef 2050 Plan save the Great Barrier Reef?
More platypus die in battle
Further Scrutiny of Australia’s environment
Huge win for the Reef
North Stradbroke Native Title
LOLA another blow to the environment
Queensland Feral Animal Strategy
Fraser Island Dingo Strategy
Government to reduce community rights?
Offsets under review
Reviving the amazing Mary River Turtle
More protection for koalas
Plastic bag free March
It pays to speak out
Commonwealth limits access to courts
Climate Change day of action
Mining continues on North Straddie
Winner - Cover of the Year
The Great Extinctiton Debate 2013
Federal Election - changed climate
Batty Boat Cruises 2013-2014
Closer to Environmental Disaster
Bird paradise at risk
National or recreational parks in Queensland?
Student Research Grants - 2013
Opera house traps continue to kill
Rare fungi feeder hops into limelight
Are Plant Species at Risk?
Congratulations Professor Possingham
Great Barrier Reef at risk!
New Wild dog check fence
Protect our national parks - NOT ON!
Government land tenure in Queensland
Give a Gift to Wildlife Queensland
Grazing on Parks: questions to be asked
Power to protect our national parks!
Grazing on Parks: where is the science?
Government Action to Protect Wildlife
The swing of the pendulum
Mothers Day Vigil
Power to Move on Flying Fox camps
Job opportunity at Wildlife Queensland!
Quoll Seeking Success!
Biodiversity concern or electioneering?
Has 'Can-Do' Campbell gone batty?
Biosecurity Bill 2012 Delayed
Community support curlews of Coochie
Qld Government encourages Shale Oil
Coral Sea Marine Reserve – a step closer
Action on the Fisheries Front
Proposed EPBC Act Amendments
An Environmental Valentine
Silt threatens Moreton Bay
Green Zone fishing push rejected
Comment on Coral Sea management plan
The social dimensions of feeding wildlife
Showcasing Australian Conservation
Nature Conservation update
Helping conservation in Vietnam
Council of Australian Governments Meeting
What is the Federal Government thinking?
Nature Conservation amendment bill
Mahogany Glider update
PlatypusWatch update
Grey Cross campaign update
Largest Network of marine reserves
Pied imperial-pigeon monitoring project
The Grey Cross Bats Campaign
Death by Barbed Wire
Koala Funding Boost
Failing to protect Woondum National Park
Environment and the Qld Government
Marine Reserves Update
Flying Foxes Targeted
Threatened Species Day
Talking Wildlife - Visual Summaries
Qld Government to allow shooting of bats
Quolls under threat near Warwick
Threatened Species Day: 7 September
Myrtle Rust - help reduce its impact
Surviving the Magpie Season
Government land tenure inquiry
DestinationQ - but what about nature?
Conservation projects with a bright future
EDO faces financial challenge
Friends of Taunton National Park
The Future for Flying Foxes
Great Barrier Reef's World Heritage at Risk
New Weeds of National Significance
Nathan Dam back on the agenda
Two major Queensland water projects
The vulnerable koala: are we in time?
previous news articles...
Environmental Impact of Floods - February 2011

Dirty water reaches northern part of Moreton island.
Photo ©Healthy Waterways

While the massive-clean up is well underway in Queensland, the full environmental impact of the floods is still being assessed.
The recent floods have devastated much of the Queensland landscape. Only time will tell how our ecosystems will bounce back from this natural disaster. Floods are a natural part of the Queensland environment but the widespread and intense nature of the current floods affecting around 80% of the state is unprecedented. It is too early to tell the full extent of the impact; the reality is we may never know. We do know that while some species will thrive others may have been killed or forcibly relocated to higher ground. Scientists suggest that ground dwelling fauna such as small mammals and reptiles may be the worst hit.

The health of our waterways has been impacted significantly as many rivers and creeks were eroded, contaminated and littered with debris. Large numbers of fish have died left stranded as waters receded. The erosion of river banks is of particular concern for freshwater turtles such as the Mary River and Fitzroy River turtles. Exotic species such as carp, tilapia and red slider turtles may have spread with the floodwaters. Many riparian zones were damaged from rapid flowing water which striped away vegetation and exposed soils making them more prone to rapid erosion from future rains. The foolishness of clearing riverine vegetation has now been exposed.  

Soils and waterways may have been contaminated by chemicals from nearby industrial and commercial premises – this is of particular for food producers. During the floods only 15% of the states 57 coal mines were fully operational. The coal industry lobbied the Government to temporarily drop environmental regulations and allow 44 mines to pump out millions of litres of contaminated floodwater into creeks and rivers. A large number of permits were issued. One can only contemplate the impact of such a huge release of highly toxic materials on our waterways. The current approval process and assessment criteria have clearly failed to stop environmental harm from occurring. The Government must review the current regulations. The floods should be a wake-up call to the Government about its attitude to development approvals. The Government has been warned repeatedly about approving development in flood plains but still it is allowed to happen. It is the public and ordinary folk in the high-risk areas who carry the burden of these poor planning decisions. No doubt Governments will continue this practice, if so they must lift the standards of design and enforce enhanced regulation.

The flow on effects of high volumes of fresh water, sediments, nutrients, pesticides and other contaminants in waterways poses a huge threat to marine environments such as Moreton Bay, the Great Sandy and Great Barrier Reef marine parks. Mangrove habitats are particularly susceptible as they act as a net catching sediment and all sorts of debris often causing damage to their root systems. Toxic flood plumes are expected to have a significant impact on seagrass beds, corals and wetlands. Excessive silt and sediments will smother corals and seagrasses. The widespread nature of the plume will also limit the ability of species such as dugong and sea turtles to find alternative food and could cause malnutrition and death. High sediment and nutrient loads can result in algal blooms and increased disease and mortality of many marine species. Excessive scouring of riverbeds could expose acid sulphate soils which wash into the marine environment. The toxic flood plume covering much of the coast poses a threat to the Queensland seafood industry with species like prawns expected to be heavily impacted. In Moreton Bay, voluntary halts on fishing continued for weeks after the flooding event.

The Government is currently evaluating and assessing the environmental impacts of the floods. It is inevitable that the environment will suffer significant short and long term impacts. There will be numerous flow-on effects as we start to see many environmental programs cut back as dollars are directed to rebuilding the state. The Gillard Government has already proposed cuts to climate change programs in order to fund flood recovery. The flood recovery must be a green recovery and cutting greenhouse gas reduction programs to fund it is not a smart solution. While no single extreme weather event can be directly attributed to climate change, the recent floods are consistent with what climate scientists have been warning for decades. If we cut carbon pollution we can reduce the severity of extreme weather events and help protect our people and our economy.

Calling for the building of new dams is not the solution. We must look at ways to redevelop our cities smarter, greener and more resilient to the impacts of extreme weather events such as this. Reassessing design and development regulations must be part of the solution. Traditional catchment management has concentrated on preventing floods. We need to look at alternatives by focusing on minimising the damage rather than the occurrence. There is a need to identify ways of living and working in flood prone areas, while protecting high value assets. People living in flood prone areas should be helped to be ‘flood ready’, similar to people living in bushfire risk areas. If we can learn to accept that floods are a part of the natural cycle in the Australian climate, we can become better equipped to deal with them when they occur.

More Information

For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.