The expansion of Currawinya National park in Queensland’s southwest is good news for the state’s embattled wildlife as the impacts of global warming take hold, WWF said today.
Currawinya National Park is an important bilby refuge in the state’s southwest and will double in size after Environment Minister Steven Miles yesterday announced the inclusion of three adjoining blocks.
The new Currawinya additions were acquired under the previous LNP government as an election commitment.
“We urge the Queensland Government to gazette another twelve properties purchased through the Commonwealth National Reserve System program as soon as possible to secure a future for our threatened bilbies, bettongs, wallabies and wombats,” said WWF-Australia’s National Species Manager Darren Grover.
Mr Grover said it was critical that the acquisition of new national parks and wildlife refuges be scaled up as a continuation of the climate change resilience program in Queensland.
“Transferring suitable state forests and leasehold land to national parks should be restarted immediately after being halted in 2012,” he said.
“Already we are seeing the impacts of global warming on Australian ecosystems due to increased temperatures, decreased rainfall and more frequent and intense bushfires.
“The good news is that it would only take a relatively small investment in protected areas to provide huge biodiversity and tourism benefits for Queensland.”
A recent report released by WWF showed that creating new national parks in Queensland would help save dozens of native species, stop reef-damaging soil erosion and boost tourism spending by about $180 million a year.
The report shows that another 4.4 million hectares or 2.4% of Queensland could be protected by simply gazetting national parks already purchased, transferring high biodiversity value state forest to national parks, and securing climate refuge properties as new national parks or private nature refuges.
This would cost only $15 million a year over five years but would provide the following benefits:
- 37 poorly protected native species would reach minimum standards of habitat protection
- Up to 10 million tonnes per year of excess soil erosion would be avoided in Great Barrier Reef catchments
- Annual tourism spending generated by national parks is predicted to increase by 27% from $671 million to $850 million.
The report Queensland Protected Area Opportunities 2015-2020 can be accessed here.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Charlie Stevens, Senior Communications Officer, WWF-Australia.