MEDIA RELEASE 28 November 2019 |

Today 12pm-1pm more than 40 local community groups from across the state join state and national environment groups on the steps of Victorian Parliament to call for urgent action from the Andrews Government to guarantee a secure future for Victoria’s unique wildlife and special natural places.

Victorian National Parks Association’s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said: “It is more important than ever that we show Victorians care about the protection of nature. The Nature For Life Rally is to highlight that protecting Victoria’s nature is critical for the survival of our state’s precious wildlife, but also for all Victorians and our way of life. Victoria’s nature is in rapid decline and increasingly threatened by climate change. We are heading for strife if we don’t act more decisively now.”

The Nature For Life Rally will be fronted by a large banner “Protect nature for life or we’re in strife” and an 80-metre hand-knitted Mountain Ash tree, and accompanied by amplified bird noises direct from the bush. Hundreds of participants will wave colourful placards highlighting their favourite Victorian natural places and wildlife.

In the last Parliamentary sitting week for 2019 – and five years to the day since the Andrews Government attained office – the rally calls for bold and urgent government leadership to protect Victoria’s nature – our National Parks, forests, grasslands, rivers, beaches, oceans, and native plants and animals

According the official Victorian State of the Environment Report released in 2018, most of our state’s biodiversity indicators are poor and trending downwards. (See www.ces.vic.gov.au/reports/state-environment-2018/biodiversity-plants-animals)

Victoria urgently needs a comprehensive policy response for the protection of nature. The Andrews Government needs to implement, as a starting point, some of the initiatives outlined in the Nature for Life Action Plan, which features over 30 initiatives around 9 themes (See https://vnpa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Nature-for-Life-Action-Plan.pdf):

  • Create new National Parks and reserves in Central West Victoria.
  • Protect Native Forests:
  • Fund & Manage National Parks to high standard:
  • Protect and Enhance Rivers:
  • Protect Our Bays, Marine Waters & Coasts
  • Action for Birds
  • Conserve our private bushlands
  • Stop Invasive Species
  • ACT (legislation) for Nature

Victorian National Parks Association’s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said: “We need new National Parks to protect our special natural places and wildlife. It has been almost a decade since the last major additions to our national parks system in Victoria by our state government.”

“The Andrews Government right now has a great opportunity in this term of government to create 60,000 hectares of new National Parks and other protected areas in the central west of Victoria. This would include the Wombat, Mount Cole, Wellsford and Pyrenees Ranges forests, as recommended for protection by a recent independent report by the Victorian Environment Assessment Council,” he said.

Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager Amelia Young said: “Victorians want forests and wildlife protected, and water supplies from forests secured. It’s a big problem that the gap between recent forest announcements and what the community wants and needs is still too large.”

“Recent Andrews’ government commitments to immediately protect some forests and ban old growth logging need speedy delivery. The Government has also got to get the detail right to show they will actually protect 90,000 hectares of old growth forest as promised,” she said.

The Nature For Life Rally was organised by Victorian National Parks Association, The Wilderness Society, Environment Victoria, Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, BirdLife Australia, along with over 40 local community conservation groups. They made the trek from across the state – Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Warburton, Healesville, Kinglake, Toolangi, Strathbogie’s, Bendigo, Daylesford, East Gippsland, Sale, Morwell, Mirboo North, Westernport and Mornington Peninsula, as well right across metropolitan Melbourne. (See map here.)

WHAT: Nature For Life Rally
WHERE: Thursday 28 November, 12pm-1pm. 
WHEN: Parliament Steps, Spring St, Melbourne 

PHOTOS: Available on request

CONTACT FOR COMMENT:
Shannon Hurley, Nature Campaigner, Victorian National Parks Association, 0433 481 346
Matt Ruchel, Executive Director, VNPA 0418 357 813
Amelia Young, Nature Conservation Campaign Director, The Wilderness Society, 0404 074 577

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