Anne Dickson, NPA President
At a time when environmental understanding and leadership is absent from most of our politicians our job as a voice for the environment becomes more important than ever. Saturday February 2nd was World Wetlands Day. I spent the day in the northern section of one of our spectacular wetland areas – Kosciusko National Park. We don’t always think of the Snowy Mountains as wetlands, but as you walk over the alpine bogs, fens and tiny creeks you come to understand how this beautiful area acts as a giant sponge as it absorbs winter snow melt and summer rain and gently releases the water throughout the year. Almost 30% of the water flow into the Murray Darling System runs and seeps from the alps. Being a witness to this water process at a time when focus was on catastrophic fish deaths further downstream was salutary. Our political leaders just don’t seem to get it. We are water dependent creatures yet the water flows we depend on are being fouled by feral animals and reorganised with dramatic negative consequences.
In Kosciuszko, feral horse are wrecking our alpine wetlands. This reduces water flows into the already challenged Murray and Murrumbidgee systems. In the Long Plain area of the park the upper Murrumbidgee banks are trampled and there is horseshit on the ground every fourth step you take – this is no exaggeration. This is the consequence of inaction on reducing the numbers of this pest species and failing to care about our water and our park. Further downstream, water is extracted and stored to irrigate crops and the small amount of water that is periodically released for environmental flows is neither sufficient for the environment nor in sync with its natural cycles.
The plight of Kosciusko and the Murray Darling River system are symptomatic of a lack of care for the country, a failure to understand its complexities, a failure to appreciate its wonders, and a failure to protect it for our children and their children. All of which makes you, the members and supporters of NPA, so important. The defining feature of the NPA community is a care for country, a thirst to understand and enjoy its wonders and a desire to leave it fit for future generations. Thanks so much for your continuing support as we seek to share with others this wonder and imperative to protect nature.
In our last edition of Nature NSW, we farewelled Alix Goodwin who has moved on to other life adventures after sharing her leadership, wisdom, and fellowship as our Chief Executive Officer. Alix led the charge on many critical environmental issues and we are grateful for her guidance in advancing NPA as a world-class advocate for national parks and an organisation that advances the connection of people with nature. While Alix will be missed as CEO, she will remain an active member as part of the Park Management Committee.
In this edition, it is my pleasure to introduce and welcome Gary Dunnett who is taking over from Alix as our new executive leader. Gary brings a wealth of conservation experience from time spent in the National Parks and Wildlife Service as an archaeologist, environmental planner, area manager, operations manager and regional manager. More recently he has worked as an environmental consultant. I have no doubt that under Gary’s stewardship NPA will continue to strengthen as a leader in protecting nature through community action.