Private development push threatens Victoria's national parks
The Victorian Government's decision to open up the state's national parks to development and private investment sets a dangerous new direction for our conservation reserves.
The policy essentially puts a 'for sale' sign on two thirds of Victoria's national parks estate.
National parks and other conservation reserves protect our already depleted natural areas. They do not exist as money-making ventures for private hoteliers and or proponents of large-scale tourist accommodation.
National parks are the jewel in the crown of Victoria's tourism industry, but we need to be careful that we don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Exposing our parks to tourism development could lead to irreversible damage to some of our most precious natural areas and undermine the integrity of our magnificent system of parks and reserves.
The primary role of national parks is the conservation of nature on behalf of all Victorians. Our parks were not created to end up as building sites for hotels and large-scale infrastructure that can only be used by a privileged few who can afford it.
Five reasons why commercial development in parks is flawed
1. Private developments will grow and grow
The Victorian Government has agreed to give private developers 99-year leases in our national parks - this effectively hands freehold title of public land to privileged individuals.
As history shows, what starts as a small 'eco-sized' accommodation will morph into more beds, a café, bigger car parks and a shop or two, not to mention a sewerage plant and roads.
2. Regional tourism doesn't needs developments in parks
In Victoria, the most cleared state in Australia, our parks are mostly small and fragmented jewels, with infrastructure often already built next to them on private land where there is plenty of opportunity for more investment.
3. Commercial development in parks is neither affordable or sustainable
Worldwide experience shows that it is the investors who benefit most from private developments in parks, not the majority of park visitors and certainly not the parks themselves.
4. Commercialisation will pervert the role and purpose of national parks
For good reason less than 1% of 20,000 national parks worldwide have any significant tourism infrastructure within them. And most of these developments pre-date park establishment or are on pre-existing enclaves of private land.
Without evidence to back it up the Victorian Government asserts that private developments would contribute to the management of our parks, but international and national examples prove they often skew resources away from much-needed conservation management.
5. The Victorian policy framework is flawed
The VNPA has reviewed the Guidelines for Tourism Investment in national parks released by the Victorian Government on Easter Sunday 2013. There are a many unanswered and ambiguous parts to the government policy for tourism investment in national parks.
What can you do
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Send a message: Please write to Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine emphasising the importance of encouraging tourism development on private land, not within parks.
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