PARK WATCH September 2018 |
Our Director Matt Ruchel outlines ten conservation priorities for the 2018 Victorian state election.
VNPA has produced a detailed policy document which has been provided to all major political parties. The document, Natural Victoria: Securing Nature for Victorian Families – Nature Conservation Policy Ideas for the 2018 Victorian State Election, outlines over 40 individual policy recommendations, addressed within four themes:
- Protecting special places: a world-leading national parks and conservation estate for Victorian families.
- Managing nature for future generations: making Victoria a world-leading conservation manager.
- Growing a strong and healthy community: Victorians active in nature.
- Securing a natural future: legislation and policy that can guarantee the survival of our natural heritage.
The full document will be available on our website soon.
A snapshot of ten ‘Conservation Priorities’ for the Victorian state election are outlined here.
We are realistic. While it is unlikely that any of major parties would adopt all of these policies in full, the document provides a framework and suggestions for policy which would help protect and enhance our unique natural heritage. If fully implemented, the package would cost between $300 – $400 million over four years. Currently the state spends around two to three per cent of its total budget directly on management of the environment, water and planning. The required extra investment would increase this expenditure by around half a per cent. By comparison, the budget for North East Link freeways is $16.5 billion.
Ten Conservation Priorities for the Victorian state election
- New national parks and conservation areas in eastern Victoria (east of the Hume Highway), including the Great Forest National Park, East Gippsland Emerald Link, Strathbogie Fores. Also include Mount Stirling in to the Alpine National Park. Comprehensively review and replace the outdated and obsolete Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) for Eastern Victoria, and abolish VicForests.
- New national parks and conservation areas in western Victoria (west of the Hume Highway), including completing the VEAC investigation into Central West Victoria to better protect the Wellsford, Wombat, Mount Cole and Pyrenees forests. There should also be a new assessment carried out in the far southwest in the area between the Little Desert and Grampians national parks. Abolish the antiquated Western Regional Forest Agreement. Establish the long promised Murray River Park and remove cattle grazing from the Murray shores.
- Private land conservation: Dramatically increase capital in the Trust for Nature Revolving Fund by between $30 – $40 million. A ramped up Victorian Revolving Fund is a financially effective way of scaling up private land nature protection to around 60,000 – 70,000 additional hectares over four years. An increase would allow for priority land across the state, including coastal, urban fringe or large agricultural holdings, to be acquired, protected (covenanted) and resold.
- Natural Melbourne: Fast track delivery of the western grassland reserves by increasing upfront funding for acquisition of grassland in the 15,000-hectare area on Melbourne’s western and northern fringe. Create a Naturally Marvellous Melbourne Plan, which would add smaller high-conservation areas to the metropolitan and regional parks network.
- Marine and coastal protection: Drop the ban on creating new marine national parks and undertake a review of the comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness of Victoria’s marine protected areas. Protect beaches and shore-nesting birds by banning commercial horse training on all beaches, including on Belfast Coastal Reserve. Establish new coastal parks under the National Parks Act 1975 at key sites such as the Moolap wetland.
- Core national parks funding: While Parks Victoria manages about 18 per cent of the state and some of the state’s key urban parks, as well as waterways and local ports, it receives less than 0.5 per cent of the state budget. A core funding increase of $50 million per year, with subsequent annual increases of at least $15 million in core government funding (non-tied) in forward estimates, would bring Parks Victoria back up to speed. This would enhance funding for hundreds of skill-based positions such as rangers, as well as resourcing improved long-term land management programs.
- Stop the invasive invasion: Commit to a statewide control and containment strategy in parks and across the landscape to reduce or end the impact of feral game species, especially deer, and other problem pest animals. This needs a specific program that engages integrated control of these pest species, including eradication in key areas, listing deer as a pest species, improving research funding for targeted baits and other control methods.
- Wandering Victoria one short walk at a time: Enhance the approach to the regional visitor economy and protect the integrity of the parks estate by focusing on the hundreds of day, half-day and shorter walks in parks, instead of developing new large-scale multi-day walks and associated infrastructure. This would focus on attracting people to accommodation in and around existing towns and villages.
- Act on extinction: Commit to being a leader in the protection of threatened species, with a new approach developed by an independent commission of inquiry to frame new legislation, and set up programs and institutions needed to reverse the decline.
- Protect wetlands and riversides: Continue to fund and implement the regional riparian action plan to improve management of public and privately-owned riparian land for at least $15 million per year ($65 million over four years), and systematically review and identify freshwater areas (refugia) likely to facilitate survival of organisms under threat from climate change.
The full Natural Victoria: Securing Nature for Victorian Families – Nature Conservation Policy Ideas for the 2018 Victorian State Election document will be available on our website soon.
How has the Andrews Government has tracked on parks creation? Read ‘National parks creation needs a jump start’, Park Watch September 2018
Find out how to be involved in our state election campaign here.
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