Dr Oisín Sweeney, Senior Ecologist, National Parks Association of NSW
It’s been a busy period for conservation activities for NPA – not that many periods are quiet of course!
Murray Valley National Park
Unfortunately, the ugly issue of degazettal of the Murray Valley National Park (MVNP) has raised its head again, with Deputy Premier Barilaro committing to a Nationals conference to reintroduce a Bill to degazette the park after the winter recess. On the positive side, this was met with an extremely swift and united response from environment groups. NPA was first out of the blocks with a letter to the Environment Minster, Matt Kean, and a joint letter from multiple groups followed swiftly to the Premier and Environment Minister. Since then meeting requests have gone out to almost 30 MPs, and both Southern Sydney and Milton Branches have taken action to alert their local MPs with letters and meetings. NPA contributed to the creation of a briefing note outlining the ecological importance of MVNP, as well as drawing attention to some of the benefits it brings to local communities – such as increasing visitation to the region and contributing to NSW’s $21 billion nature-based tourism industry. NPA also wrote to the Ramsar Secretary General (the Ramsar Convention protects wetlands of international importance, of which the Central Murray Forests are within MVNP) to ask them to raise the issue with the Australian Government, as well as the new federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley. Watch this space!
Kosciuszko National Park
The Reclaim Kosci steering committee met in July to review the overall strategy for the campaign. The next major opportunity to influence the management of feral horses will be when the draft strategy is released for public comment. A follow up session to develop campaign actions is planned for late August in the ACT.
NPA continues to oppose the Snowy 2.0 project due to its devastating environmental damage to Kosciuszko National Park. The Commonwealth Government has approved the project, the major works contract has been awarded and construction has commenced before the EIS’s for the main works and transmission lines have even been released, let alone assessed. This complete disregard for the EIS process is even more reprehensible for a project within a National Park
Not content with trying for an entire 49,000ha protected area, the logging industry is also pushing for the ‘remapping and rezoning’ of forests in north-east NSW protected as old-growth since the Regional Forest Agreement negotiations in the 1990s. The remapping is being driven by a supposed timber supply shortfall of between 7,600 and 8,600 m3 per year as a result of changed logging prescriptions for koalas and mapping of Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs) through new logging laws enacted late last year. Conservation groups dispute the validity of this shortfall, because the rules only require 10 small (<20cm diameter) trees per hectare to be left for koalas – much too small for timber production – and TECs have always been off limits to logging and therefore cannot be counted towards timber supply. The Natural Resources Commission is leading this process, and their initial trial of 13 sites reduced the area of mapped old-growth by 78%! In one forest, the area of old-growth was reduced by 100%, despite a hollow-bearing tree density of 26 per hectare, 6 large dead trees per hectare and large quantities of large-diameter deadwood. It’s clear that the forests are of enormous ecological value, regardless of definition, and should remain protected. NPA has contributed to a briefing note on the issue as well as letters to government Ministers and MPs, and contributed to a story in the Guardian. The key issue underlying the attack on old-growth is the government’s ‘twin commitment’ to no reduction in wood supply and no erosion of environmental protection. This is akin to committing to no reduction in irrigation water and no reduction in environmental flows: a fantasy.
Sydney Marine Park
An NPA working group was convened in early July to review campaign strategies for the Sydney Marine Park. NPA will compile briefing packages and meet with local MPs directly affected by the marine park proposal over the coming months to stress the need for an ecologically meaningful marine protected area.
Koala Inquiry – get involved!
NPA made a detailed submission to the NSW Inquiry into Koala Populations and Habitats, outlining priority reserves for koalas on the north coast and in Sydney. We also contributed to a joint Stand Up For Nature submission to the Inquiry, and provided a short letter and key submission points for Branches and supporters to do their own submissions. NPA hopes to be able to give evidence at the Inquiry hearings. The Inquiry is ongoing until June 2020, so we urge all Branches and supporters to engage with it.
NPA made submissions to: the draft Swift Parrot Recover Plan; NSW’s proposed forest monitoring program; the Forest Stewardship Council’s High Conservation Value Risk Assessment and changes to the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009. View our submissions