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The Great Forest National Park: important scientifically, socially and economically

Updated:
IMAGE: Central Highlands, Victoria | Peter Halasz

We all know the Great Forest National Park will be a playground for Melbourne, right on the city's doorstep. But did you know the basis for the creation of the Great Forest National Park is weighed scientifically, socially and economically against five key reasons?
 

Why it's important

IMAGE: Sleepy Fairy Possum | Parks Victoria
1. Biodiversity. The creation of the park will ensure the conservation of near-extinct wildlife and plants after decades of over-logging, the impacts of the tragic 2009 bushfires, and in light of future fire events.
 
2. Water. The park will also protect water catchments for Melbourne and the LaTrobe and the Goulburn-Murray River systems, offering food bowl and community security. This is the largest catchment and area of clean water in Victoria.
 
3. Tourism. This is one of Victoria's richest ecological assets, yet these magnificent forests have not been included in a state plan to encourage tourism. A new report, commissioned by The Wilderness Society, indicates the proposed Great Forest National Park would deliver an estimated $70 million annually to Victoria’s economy and create 760 full-time jobs.
 
Additionally, the report by consultants the Nous Group, estimates the park would attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. This would provide a welcome boost to towns like Healesville and Marysville. Read the full report
 
4. Climate. These forests store more carbon per hectare than any other forest studied in the world. They sequester carbon, modulate the climate and act as giant storage banks to absorb excess carbon – if they're not logged. The financial opportunity in carbon credits is significant and can be paid directly to the State if a system is established federally.
 
5. Places of spiritual nourishment. These forests have been described as a 'keeping place' by the Traditional Owners – a place that secures the story of the land and provides spiritual nourishment; a place to be passed on to future generations. There is no price tag on the value nature brings to mental health and spiritual wellbeing.
 
IMAGE: Melbourne's drinking water | Michaela Pyne