NSW about to let loose industrial logging in red gum national park
In Victoria we stopped our unique red gum national parks being logged by stealth but just over the border from Barmah the NSW Government is about to begin logging in the Murray Valley National Park after approval was granted by federal environment minister Greg Hunt.
"Make no bones about it: this is a major retrograde step for Australia and NSW. For the first time ever we will see industrial logging machinery in a national park," said Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW.
Massive tourism potential
Nature is the number one driver of international tourism in NSW. Last year almost 40 million people visited the state's national parks, and in 2013 nature-based visitors spent $14.6 billion in NSW.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service encourages visitors to explore the 'majestic river red gums or Ramsar-listed wetlands' in the Murray National Park, go birdwatching, fishing bike riding or kayaking.
Home to more than 60 threatened native species the parks service says 'tranquillity and serenity is irresistible, especially at dawn when the Murray River sits perfectly still and mirrors the shadow of its guards: the towering and dominant red gums that crowd its banks'.
"Tourism is the biggest industry in regional Australia -- 44 cents of every tourist dollar is spent regionally," Mr Evans said.
"But instead of helping the Murray Valley National Park become a regional economic powerhouse, they will drive away visitors horrified by logging machines."
Dr Oisín Sweeney, science officer with the National Parks Association of NSW, has slammed the decision to log the park.
"They're not just going to log a NSW national park, they're going to log an internationally acclaimed wetland -- and put at risk all those values Australia signed up to protect," he said.
Victorian management plan
The decision to log the Murray Valley National Park comes as Victoria is developing a management plan for its own River Red Gum parks and reserves, which line the Murray River on the other side of the state border.
In Victoria, nine new parks were created in 2010 to protect the health of the Murray River and River Red Gum forests. The management plan will guide the protection of Victoria's River Red Gum floodplain forests and wetlands, cultural sites and explore opportunities for tourism and recreation.
"Parks Victoria and the community will work together to guide the protection of these significant protected areas and enjoy their benefits for many years to come," Parks Victoria Chief Executive Bradley Fauteux has said.