MEDIA RELEASE – 14 May 2017: 

Four hundred committed people gathered at the summit of Mt Donna Buang in the Yarra Ranges National Park yesterday to create a giant human sign spelling out support for a new Great Forest National Park in the Central Highlands and Gippsland.

The human sign was 60 metres long, 50 metres wide and made up of passionate people spelling out the words:

Called The Great Forest Picnic, the event was held at the Mt Donna Buang summit picnic ground.

“As part of the ongoing push for new national parks in Victoria 400 very passionate conservationists rugged up in the cool mountain air to spell out their support for a new Great Forest National Park,” Victorian National Parks Association executive director Matt Ruchel said.

“The Andrews government is running out of time to give Victorians a clear commitment that it will create a new Great Forest National Park.”

Karina Doughty, spokesperson for Warburton Environment, said a new Great Forest National Park would protect the area’s native plants and animals and boost local businesses and employment.

“It’s so wonderful to see so many locals from the Warburton Valley up here celebrating our national parks,” she said.

“These community members represent a large section of people from the Upper Yarra district who want our special and unique plants and animals protected once and for all in a Great Forest National Park.

“The creation of a Great Forest National Park would boost business and employment in our otherwise economically disadvantaged townships.”

Mr Ruchel said the new park, less than 90 minutes from Melbourne, would protect forest-dependent species such as the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum, safeguard drinking water catchments and provide unique tourism opportunities for local businesses.

“National parks benefit people and nature by providing permanent protection for our unique wildlife and a place for people to enjoy the great outdoors,” he said.

“A Great Forest National Park would create a nature-based playground for stressed out urbanites and could lead to more than 760 full-time, sustainable jobs.”

The Great Forest Picnic was organised by the Victorian National Parks Association and supported by the Wilderness Society Victoria, Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, Warburton Environment, Warburton Habitat Tree, Knitting Nannas of Toolangi, Save Mt St Leonard Community Campaign, Environment East Gippsland and the Goongerah Environment Centre.

Numbers and activities were limited by an Event Permit from Parks Victoria.

For comment

  • Matt Ruchel – 0418 357 813.

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Part of the 400 people who gathered at the top of Mt Donna Buang today spelling out their love for parks, and for a Great Forest National Park. Photo: Bette Divine
Caption: Four hundred people who gathered at the top of Mt Donna Buang today spelling out their love for parks, and for a Great Forest National Park. Photo: Bette Divine