A weekend of celebrations in Tasmania, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of our first national parks and highlighting the environmental, community and economic benefits of national parks, reinforces longstanding calls for new national parks to be declared over spectacular forest areas that were protected through the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, but reversed by the current government.
Almost 400,000ha of forests were protected through the Forest Agreement, but now sit as ‘unallocated crown land’. These forests are distributed across regional Tasmania and have existing points of public access through roads, bridges and walking tracks.
“This weekend we celebrate the vision of Tasmania’s early leaders and the century of economic, employment, community and environmental benefits our national parks have delivered Tasmania,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society.
“Given both government and conservationists agree on these benefits, it’s perplexing to have a government hostile to creating new conservation icons.
“National parks protect outstanding natural and cultural values and give Tasmania a priceless identity that sets us apart from many other parts of the world."
Longstanding national park proposals in Tasmania include:
- Tarkine National Park: To protect great rainforests, wilderness, wild coastline, threatened species, Aboriginal heritage and delivering an accessible national park icon and credible conservation story for far NW Tasmania.
- Great Western Tiers National Park: Now World Heritage-listed but classed as ‘unallocated crown land’; in July this year the World Heritage Committee called for this area to be given ‘status as national park’ (recommendation 11—UNESCO mission report). The government accepted this recommendation but is yet to outline when it will gazette a new national park.
- North East Highlands National Park: Linking the spectacular peak of Mt Arthur and the Blue Tier, this park responds to scientific calls for linked landscapes of conservation reserves to assist nature respond to the pressures of climate change.
New opportunities, such as a ‘Lobster Forests National Park’ are emerging from the recommendations of government auspiced threatened species protection plans. The 2016 draft recovery plan for the giant freshwater lobster identifies the need for the formal reservation of critical forested catchments key for the survival of the lobster. Many of these are also ‘unallocated crown land’, promised back to a logging industry that should never be allowed to log them.
“The case for new national parks has long been made by scientists based on sound environmental and reserve design principles. Now it’s clear and agreed that national parks are delivering jobs, economic growth and community benefits, expanding the national park network is a logical win-win all round.
“As we celebrate 100 years of national park success, we call on today’s leaders to expand the benefits and take steps to unlock the potential of new national parks in Tasmania.
Please contact Vica Bayley on 0400 644 939.