Time for Labor to deliver on 5-year-old promise of new Murray River Park
Monday 29 June 2015
Conservationists today called on the Victorian Government to deliver on a five-year-old commitment to remove cattle from sensitive areas along the Murray River and protect its valuable riverbanks and wetlands as part of a new Murray River Park.
"Five years ago former Labor premier John Brumby made history by protecting some of the largest remaining River Red Gum forests in the world as national parks, but lost power before the sensitive wetland areas between them could be secured," Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director Matt Ruchel said today.
"These smaller areas were supposed to be protected as part of a new Murray River Park, and were even handed over to Parks Victoria for management, but were not formally gazetted or declared before the Brumby Government lost power. As a result, cattle went back in, and they're still there."
Conservationists see this as unfinished business for the new Labor Government, and are calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to complete the job John Brumby started five years ago.
"As soon as they came to power the former Coalition Government dropped the Murray River Park vision, and reversed the process of phasing out cattle grazing by re-issuing more than 200 cattle grazing licences in these sensitive wetland areas. This needs to be fixed, and is a great chance for Victorian Labor to complete unfinished business," Mr Ruchel said.
The Murray River Park (a type of regional park) would form an ecological link between larger protected areas stretching from near the South Australian border across to the Hattah-Kulkyne, Gunbower, Barmah and Warby Range-Ovens River national parks and protect sensitive riverside habitat and popular camping areas.
It would be made up of a string of smaller pieces of public land dotting the Murray River, adding around 20,000 hectares of protected riverland.
The new park would:
Create an almost continuous ecological connection between major national parks.
Provide a significant natural attraction for camping, boating and recreation in a natural river environment.
Protect an outstanding scenic landscape for river users.
Protect parts of the flood plain and river frontage, important to many native species.
Protect important historical sites and sites of cultural significance to Traditional Owners.
"These reserves have the potential to provide a coherent, cattle-free wildlife corridor to improve the quality of water run-off into the Murray River. But they're not properly protected yet, especially when cattle are allowed in to pollute water, trample sensitive wetlands and generally make a mess," Mr Ruchel said.