Anne Dickson, President of National Parks Association of NSW

In late June NPA State Council members gathered below the Dooragan National Park on North Brother, one of the Three Brothers mountains near Laurieton. With this year’s State and Federal elections out of the way we now know the political landscape that we will be working with for the next few years. The State Council meeting was an opportunity for us to review and discuss recalibrating our conservation campaigns. You can read more about these campaigns in this edition in the article by Oisín Sweeney, our Senior Ecologist.

As well as our major campaigns, a few common themes emerged at the meeting from our branches regarding where we should be focusing our core business activities – being diligent in monitoring and opposing attempts to take over national park lands for infrastructure; the continuing challenge to find the right balance between park use by visitors and ecological protection; and the recurring concern about protection of the inter-tidal zone.

One of the important functions of State Council is to decide on our administrative and governance arrangements. We passed by-law changes that made it clear how we implement our commitment to a non-partisan stance. While we may support or oppose certain policies, we do not support or oppose particular political parties or candidates. The by-laws clarified that members who are candidates for, or hold, political office are disqualified from holding office within NPA.

For some time, our members in the Blue Mountains and parts of Sydney outside of Macarthur and Southern Sydney have been without an active branch committee. The State Council meeting was very pleased to appoint an interim Sydney Region Branch committee to cover this gap with David Stead as president, Anne Dickson, secretary, Samantha Newton, treasurer and Conny Harris, Tom Fink, and Fiona Campbell as committee members. As well as enhancing the activities program, the interim committee is establishing special interest groups for areas of interest to members such as marine conservation, urban bushland, bush regeneration, and Kosciuszko National Park. An invitation to an information event will have been sent to all members covered by the revamped Sydney Region Branch.

At the end of the meeting we were joined by local members and non-members for a forum on conservation in the Mid North Coast. Forty years ago Mike Dodkin, when he was a young NPWS ranger, invited NPA to undertake bush regeneration in Crowdy Bay National Park and he shared the story of this highly successful volunteer weed control program and paid tribute to Sue Baker who has been the champion organiser, grant applicant and motivator for the past 20 years of the program. We were then treated to insights on Indigenous cultural access to aquatic resources by Hayley Egan who explored how this access fits into marine protected area management and you can read more from Hayley in this journal edition. Jane McIntyre presented on action a group of residents from the Mid North Coast are taking to stop the harvesting of forests to produce wood pellets for electricity generation under the guise of ‘renewable’ energy. And finally, Oisín Sweeney gave us an update on the campaign for The Great Koala National Park.

As you can see your state councillors were very productive at our mid-year meeting and thanks go to Mid-North Coast Branch for hosting our gathering. Our next meeting will be in Southern Sydney on 9th November. This meeting will include our AGM and be followed by our Annual Dinner. This will be an informative and enjoyable day and evening and I warmly encourage all members to come along. Put the date in your diary and we will be letting you know the details closer to the date.