The NSW Government this week announced $27 million to upgrade and expand walking and cycling trails in Koscuiszko National Park (KNP), designed to boost tourism. The proposals however add to an increasing number of pressures on alpine ecosystems—sensitive and highly localised in Australia—says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).
The construction of 46km of new cycling and walking trails in KNP looks set to exacerbate other pressures on the National Park including proposals for new ski resorts and Snowy 2.0, and worsening impacts from the estimated 6,000 feral horses living within its boundaries, including in the Alpine area.
NPA CEO Alix Goodwin said “while the belated recognition by the Deputy Premier of the social, health and economic benefits of National Parks is welcome, these plans are very concerning.
“KNP looks set to be a case of the boiling frog: we are witnessing our largest and most significant National Park face increasing development pressure, growing threats from climate change and unacceptable delay on implementing the Wild Horse Management Plan to reduce continuing damage from feral horses.
“While the Berejiklian Government is capable of finding money for new tourism developments in an election year, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has seen years of budget cuts under the Coalition, reducing the management capacity of the Service.
“This appears to be just another idea short on detail. It will require amendments to the Plan of Management, assessment of predicted impacts on the National Park’s fragile alpine ecosystems and extended public consultation.
“The announcement included references to luxury resorts and backcountry camping facilities, but provided no information on their locations. Are we to see further resort development in the park and exclusive access to trails—turning public property into a private playground for those that can afford it?
“NPA supports getting people into parks, and the economic value and jobs that tourism provides for regional NSW. But development must not come at the cost of natural values lost to future generations.
“In light of the serious issues left unaddressed, this week’s announcement is yet another failure of the Minister for the Environment to protect our National Park system. The Minister should have argued for the direction of equivalent funds to the most pressing maintenance issues facing KNP, and investing in new national parks, on which the government has such a poor record.” ENDS
Media contact: Alix Goodwin, CEO, National Parks Association of NSW: M: (02)9299 0000