MEDIA RELEASE 21 June 2020 |
A year can be long time for wildlife facing extinction without protection in national parks from threats like mining and logging.
Exactly 12 months after a milestone report recommending 60,000 hectares of new national parks in Victoria’s central west was released to the public, the Andrews Government is still stalling on its legal deadline to make a decision.
But while Victorians and vulnerable wildlife and plants including the threatened Greater Glider, the Mount Cole Grevillea and the Powerful Owl are forced to wait, mining exploration and logging is being allowed to escalate in the very areas proposed for protection.
This has prompted protests from local communities and outcry from conservation groups.
“It’s a very unhappy anniversary for threatened wildlife and frustrated conservation minded communities in the central west!,” said Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director Matt Ruchel.
“A year can be a long time for threatened wildlife facing extinction without the protection of habitat from threats like mining and logging.”
“We know that Victoria has an extinction problem. We know that National Parks are an effective and proven mechanism for long term protection and tackling extinction”.
Shockingly, large drilling rigs exploring for gold and other minerals have now appeared in the proposed Wombat-Lerderderg National Park, in the Wombat Forest and headwaters of the Heritage Listed Lerderderg River near Daylesford. There are fears of a full-blown mining operation going ahead if the Andrews Government does not hurry up and announce the new national parks.
Logging in key areas of the Mount Cole Forests is planned to intensify, including within the proposed national park for that area.
“The Andrew’s Government is missing in action on its obligation to make a decision to approve these new national parks, which was due four months ago under legislated timelines.”
“Protection in our national parks system is the only way to save these precious forests and the wildlife that depend on them for survival from mining and logging now and forever.”
“Instead the plans are gathering dust on the Minister’s desk. The lack of decision by the Andrews Government leaves these forests open to mining and logging that will destroy what is national park-quality forests – most of which are in easy access to nature-starved Melbournians.”
The independent Victorian Environment Assessment Council’s (VEAC) final Central West Investigation report was released 21 June 2019. It recommended the permanent protection of around 60,000 hectares of native forests and the 380 threatened species that call them home. These include the Wombat Forest (near Daylesford), Wellsford Forest (near Bendigo), Pyrenees Ranges Forest (near Avoca), and Mount Cole Forest (west of Ballarat, near Beaufort).
After it was tabled in Victorian Parliament on 15 August 2019, the government had six months to respond. This response date was before to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. The entire process has been running for four years, with 3000 community submissions, a series of major reports and over 450 pages of documentation.
“It is well and truly time to get back on track and commit to these new national parks. The report and its recommendations needs be dusted off and a decision made.”
“The Andrews Government has not created any large new national parks. This is an opportunity for a real legacy of nature protection for the Andrews Government that it should not waste.”