Gladys Berejiklian must act swiftly to defeat a private members bill to downgrade the 41,000-hectare Murray Valley National Park (aka River Red Gums National Park) to a state forest and open it for logging when it is tabled in parliament. [1]

NSW Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Daisy Barham said: “If Ms Berejiklian does not kill off this dangerous proposal, she will be forever remembered as the first premier to scrap a national park and allow it to be logged.

“If the government supports this bill, some of our last remining River Red Gun Forests will be logged and take centuries to recover.”

“It is one thing to scrap plans for 75,000 hectares of new national parks, as her government did in the face of Nationals MP demands earlier in its term. [2]

“It is quite another to scrap an existing park that was created after $97 million dollars were paid in compensation to loggers and contractors.

“The people of NSW love their national parks and expect the Premier to defend them from profiteers and sectional interests.”

National Parks Association of NSW Senior Ecologist Dr Oisin Sweeney said: “Only 5.5% of land in the Riverina bioregion is protected – risibly short of the target of 17% of each bioregion that Australia has agreed to protect by 2020. We should be increasing protections to the environment, not removing them.

“Alongside our land clearing record, degazettal of this park would send a further signal that Australia is no longer committed to international environmental leadership.

“It would have disastrous consequences for the local, State and national environment, set a dangerous precedent for other protected areas, and damage to Australia’s international reputation as a conservation leader, because these forests are listed as internationally significant wetlands [3].

“The Murray Valley National Park and other priceless natural treasures must be protected in perpetuity, not opened to logging on a political whim.

“Quite apart from their inherent natural values, national parks in NSW attract more than 52 million visitors a year [4] and generate billions of dollars for local tourism industries [5].”

REFERENCES

[1] www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/reversal-of-national-park-bill-spurs-fears-of-open-season-on-environment-20181020-p50aw5.html

[2] www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/plan-to-increase-nsw-national-parks-scuttled-by-berejiklian-government-20181015-p509qz.html

[3] http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/wetlands/ramsardetails.pl?refcode=64

[4] www.environment.nsw.gov.au/research-and-publications/our-science-and-research/our-research/social-and-economic/social/domestic-visitation

[5] https://www.destinationnsw.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/nature-based-tourism-to-nsw-snapshot-ye-sept-2017.pdf

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