A new WWF-Australia report shows 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 Queensland Protected Area Opportunities 2015-2020 briefing aims to encourage political parties to commit to new national parks during the state election campaign.
“Our analysis shows that a relatively small investment in protected areas provides a huge benefit to Queensland,” WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said.
Mr O’Gorman said another 4.4 million hectares or 2.4% of the state 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 5 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.
“Protecting native species is an absolute priority. Once a plant or animal is gone it is gone forever. Securing the future for another 37 species by boosting national parks would be a proud legacy for any government,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“But the benefits don’t end there. Soil erosion in Reef catchments is a big problem for the Reef. Ten million tonnes is enough to cover the Brisbane CBD in over 2 metres of soil. That’s the soil erosion that could be avoided each and every year.
“New national parks could also pump as much as $179 million extra tourism dollars into local communities annually,” he said.
WWF used a methodology developed by the Queensland Environment Department to identify areas that will continue to provide suitable habitat for native species under the worst impacts of climate change. These climate refuge properties are a mix of leasehold and freehold but it is crucial they are secured to protect species.
The 4.4 million hectares of new protected areas advocated by WWF-Australia are high biodiversity value areas and include wildlife corridors to link national parks to enable species to safely move.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571