Media Releases - 26 November 2021

Australia’s largest ever national park proclaimed in the Munga-Thirri / Simpson Desert

  • Wilderness Society commends the South Australian government on a grand national park initiative

  • Globally significant desert ecosystems in the heart of Australia remains at risk

  • Expansion of the fossil fuel industry needs to stop

Munga-Thirri / Simpson Desert in bloom. Image: Bill Doyle

Australia’s largest ever national park in the Munga-Thirri / Simpson Desert has just been proclaimed by the South Australian government. Covering 3.6 million hectares, it is almost twice the size of Kakadu National Park and four times the size of the famous Yellowstone National Park in the US.

Wilderness Society South Australia Director Peter Owen said: "We commend Minister Speirs and the South Australian government for creating Australia's largest ever national park in the Munga-Thirri / Simpson Desert.

"This is a grand initiative, on a scale we have been advocating for over a decade. Conservation measures like this are critically important, allowing endangered animals and plants to move and adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

“The Munga-Thirri / Simpson Desert is a vast, globally significant wilderness within the Lake Eyre Basin, in the very heart of Australia. It’s home to the world’s longest parallel sand dunes, more than 900 species of plants and animals with continuous First Nations custodianship stretching back thousands of years.

“When rain transforms this remarkable landscape into temporary wetlands, thousands of birds from across Australia flock here to feed and breed. Then native flowers burst into colour across the burnt orange sand, a beautiful garden that seems to stretch into infinity.”

But all this could be lost if the fossil fuel industry expands into the region.

“Proclaiming a national park sends a strong signal that an area is too precious to put at risk,” says Peter Owen. “We hope fossil fuel company Tri-Star recognises this and withdraws their exploration proposal for the region, following the lead of BP, Chevron and Equinor who recently withdrew their drilling plans for the Great Australian Bight.

“If bulldozers were to rip through the Munga-Thirri’s shifting sand dunes and drill into fragile groundwater tables like the Great Artesian Basin it will destroy this unique wilderness area forever.

“The expansion of the fossil fuel industry must stop if we are to have any chance of a liveable climate into the future. Australia's deserts are already on a path to becoming too hot to support life.

“As climate disasters rage around the world, the United Nations chief has warned that the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is a 'code red for humanity'.1 The International Energy Agency has also stated that oil and gas exploration needs to cease this year to secure a safe climate.”

For further comment contact Peter Owen on 0423 550 018.

Take a look at how the Wilderness Society's work over the years helped deliver this new national park.

1Slezak, M. & Timms, P., (2021) Climate change report from IPCC a 'code red for humanity', United Nations chief warns, ABC News, 9 August 2021.

2 IEA (2021), Net Zero by 2050, IEA, Paris.