Queensland’s leading environment groups have warned that Queensland’s status as the most wildlife-rich state in Australia is now seriously at risk, and immediate action is needed to grow and better manage the state’s protected areas.
The groups have today released a new six-point plan calling on the Palaszczuk Government to act urgently on protected areas, as Queensland increasingly lags behind other states.
“Despite having the biggest diversity of plant and animal species of any Australian state, we are coming last when it comes to safeguarding our natural treasures,” said Martin Taylor of WWF Australia.
“Queensland has long suffered from under-investment in conservation and land management, with only around eight percent of its land area protected—the lowest proportion of Australia’s states and territories.”
“As Queenslanders we are lucky to live in one of the most wildlife-rich places on the planet. But this could all be at risk if we don’t take action to better protect our unique natural and cultural heritage,” said Graeme Bartrim of the National Parks Association of Queensland.
“Protected areas are widely recognised as one of the most effective approaches to the conservation of nature. They provide a generous return on public investment by supporting
tourism, public health, recreation benefits and other ecosystem services like clean air and water.”
The Wilderness Society spokeswoman Gemma Plesman said “Queenslanders love our national parks and reserves for the access they give us to nature and for the role they play in protecting it.”
A recent Galaxy poll found 84 percent of Queenslanders believe that more land should be protected in national parks and reserves.
“It’s clear that Queenslanders want to see our Government pick up the pace on protected areas. That’s why today we’ve released a clear and concise plan for the Palaszczuk Government to safeguard our state’s natural assets,” concluded Ms Plesman.
Notes for editors:
- Queensland’s land conservation is the lowest in the country, at 8%. This is compared to: Australian Capital Territory 55%, Tasmania 42%, South Australia 30%, Northern Territory 25%, Western Australia 23%, Victoria 17%, New South Wales 9%.
- Polling conducted by Galaxy Research in November 2017 (1,000 respondents).
Six-point plan for Queensland’s protected areas:
1. Strengthen the laws
- Amend the Nature Conservation Act 1992 to ensure the primary purpose of national parks is the protection of natural and cultural resources.
- Pass the Nature Conservation (Special Wildlife Reserves) Bill 2018 to create a new class of private protected area which is protected from mining, logging and grazing.
- Proactively phase out grazing leases in national parks.
2. Grow and better manage our national parks
- Invest $56 million per year for improved on-ground management in our existing national parks.
- Invest $55 million per year for acquisition of new parks, with matching increments in funding for the Queensland Parks Wildlife Service to manage added parks as needed.
3. Grow private protected areas
- Invest $10 million a year over four years to grow the Nature Refuges footprint and provide more support to landholders to better manage their lands.
4. Support Indigenous land management
- Invest in the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program by creating 200 new ranger positions over the next ten years.
5. Restore land to traditional owners and create new protected areas
- Invest $10 million a year over five years (2019-2024) to extend the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program beyond its current end date of June 2019.
- Maximize opportunities for jointly-managed areas and extend the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program model, or similar, as part of a broader strategy to support Indigenous conservation approaches.
6. Fund our protected areas
- Increase capital funding for protected areas to a level more consistent with their important contribution to Queensland’s economy, environment and lifestyle.
- Allocate $50 million a year over three years from the waste levy to contribute to protected areas.
- Exploring options for raising additional revenue through mechanisms such as a bushland preservation levy.