PARK WATCH September 2018 |

In November 2017, the Andrews Government was tracking as the worst performer in terms of park creation over the last 60+ years. Now, with only weeks to go before the next election on November 24, has the situation changed? 

In November last year, VNPA strategically highlighted the  failing of the state government to add to the national parks and protected area estate. Theanalysis compared the track record of governments over the last several decades (see ‘Victorian national parks by premier‘, Park Watch December 2017).

On 14 July 2018, Victoria’s Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, and Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Aunty Doris Paton, formally announced the creation of the Brataualung Forest Park in the Strzelecki Ranges. A new 2,390-hectare forest park is the first package of land, and a total of 8,500 hectares will be gradually handed back over the coming years.

This package was originally announced under the Brumby Labor government. However, Forest Parks, a type of reserve created under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, are not officially counted as part of the formal protected area estate. While they do outlaw large-scale industrial logging, they have less restrictive provisions for recreation, allow firewood collection and, in some cases, selective or speciality timber logging.

If this new park was included in the calculations, the government would have created 9,560 hectares of new parks in this term, still 358 hectares short of the previous Coalition government’s total (though on a ‘days in office’ basis they would be slightly ahead).

On 27 March 2018 the Victorian Government announced that a total of 2,500 hectares of the Kuark Forest, north-west of Orbost, will be set aside as a Special Protection Zone where logging is banned. The official zoning does not yet appear to have been National parks creation needs a jump start Nature’s Needs changed, and these types of zonings are not permanent protection and cannot be counted in any calculation of additions to the national protected area estate. Conservation groups welcomed the announcement but called on the government to incorporate the Kuark Forest into the adjacent Errinundra National Park. This has not been committed to.

Protected areas are defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as follows: “A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”. They have a formal role in fulfilling Australia’s commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty that must be taken seriously.

It is clear that the Andrews government and the previous Baillieu/Napthine Coalition government are now neck and neck as the worst performing governments on national park creation over the last half-century. With a benchmark gap of around 1.5 million hectares in public conservation areas (a larger gap if private land is included), all political parties need to do better. While it is too late for this term, committing to creating a Great Forest National Park, new parks around the Emerald Link, the Strathbogies, Central Western Victoria or even new marine parks would be a very good place to start.

*Calculation 1: 7,170 ha / 1,376 day = 5.2 ha per day. Calculation 2: 7,170 ha + 2,390 ha = 9,560 ha/ 1376 days in office = 6.9 ha per day in office at the end of August 2018. * Assumes days in office to 2017 anniversary of state election. Historical days in office were obtained from VEC

**Calculation of ratio assumes Anglesea Heathlands addition to Great Otway National Park, which is currently before parliament and the addition of the 650 ha Woowookarung Regional Park (Canadian Regional Park), near Ballarat, which is not reserved under the National Parks Act, though some of the provisions of the Act apply and it is managed by Parks Victoria.

***This table includes only reserves created under the National Park Act and its predecessors and does not include other types of conservation reserves. The data for this analysis largely uses the creation of parks data from Parks Victoria plus recent additions


Read our ten conservation priorities for the 2018 Victorian state election in ‘Nature’s needs’, Park Watch September 2018

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