Prospects for Victoria's national parks increasingly tarnished
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
National parks and other high conservation areas should not be opened up to widespread mineral prospecting, the Victorian National Parks Association has warned.
"We oppose any further extension of prospecting in national parks and other areas of conservation significance," VNPA spokesperson Phil Ingamells said today.
"The real treasures in our parks are natural treasures, and they belong to all of us."
His comments follow today's announcement by Michael O'Brien, minister for gaming, consumer affairs, energy and resources, that prospecting may be allowed in Victoria's national parks following a review.
"We want to know why Victoria's energy and mining minister seems to be allowed to make decisions about the environmental management of our national parks," said Mr Ingamells.
"Widespread prospecting comes at a cost to our natural environment. Prospectors dig up areas wherever their metal detector registers scrap metal or minerals, and this can cause erosion or affect threatened plant species, including rare ground orchids.
"Many areas are already open to prospectors for fossicking, including parks in the goldfields region, and we already see the damaging effects this is having on the environment.
"Opening up national parks and other conservation reserves to mineral prospecting will add additional stress to these already stressed areas," said Mr Ingamells.
"Under Victoria's National Parks Act, and under international convention, national parks are primarily there for the protection of nature against exploitation.
"The Baillieu Government is making decisions in an environmental policy vacuum, slowly unpicking the Victorian community's carefully established nature protection measures.
"We need better protection and more resources to manage parks. What our native plants and animals need is help not more problems."
- Phil Ingamells, 0427 705 133.