NEWS 5 July 2018 |
A draft management plan for several national and state parks in the central Victorian goldfields region has recommended the scaling back of areas available for recreational prospecting in those parks to reduce impacts.
Now the Prospectors and Miners Association is up in arms over the plan’s proposal.
It might seem fair enough to allow a few retired citizens a bit of exercise while they search for a nugget that might have been overlooked during the last 150 years of gold fever.
But Victoria is the only Australian state that allows prospecting in national parks.
That’s because prospectors can cause considerable damage to creeks and streams, and by digging holes they can inadvertently dig up tubers of rare orchids and other plants, as well as impacting on Aboriginal cultural sites, and spreading weeds and harmful soil pathogens.
That’s why a Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s investigation into prospecting recommended greater restrictions on the activity, including using non-mechanical hand tools, restricting pumps and sluices, avoiding indigenous cultural sites etc. None of these stricter regulations have been put in place.
Prospectors already have access to over 4.7 million hectares of Victoria’s public land outside the park system – the activity is not threatened.
In arguing for traditional access to the parks in question, the prospectors are on shaky ground. The draft plan was prepared by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board for the Dja Dja Wurrung community – the acknowledged Traditional Owners of much of Central Victoria. They invited extensive community consultation.
Maybe it’s time we caught up with the other states, and kept prospecting to areas where the damage has less impact.