Alix Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer, National Parks Association of NSW

2018 has been a year of highs for NPA and lows for national parks and the environment.

Over the last 12 months, the NSW Government has made significant decisions relating to national parks that have seen science-based policy abandoned, regional economies, urban expansion and developer interests prioritised, and the National Parks and Wildlife Act undermined and NPWS sidelined. The following examples demonstrate why we say this with confidence.

2018 has been a year of highs for NPA and lows for national parks and the environment.
The Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018, which commenced in June, prioritises an introduced species over threatened native wildlife, despite a draft determination by the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee proposing the listing of the feral horse as a key threatening process.

The Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area draft plan of management, released in July, supports the construction of 60 kilometres of mountain bike trails. This is not an initiative of NPWS. Rather it is being driven by Orange City Council which forecasts that it will bring an additional 50,000 visitors to the region and its economy.

The proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall is being driven by plans to double the number of people currently residing and working on the Hawkesbury-Nepean flood plain (i.e. 134,000) putting at risk the world heritage listing of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage.

The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and role of NPWS has been seriously undermined as a cursory reading of the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018, Water NSW (Warragamba Dam) Amendment Act 2018 and the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Amendment (Snowy 2.0) Bill 2018 shows.

Amidst this darkness, NPA has continued to thrive. We released our 50 Park Proposals in January and our Forests For All: Case For Change in June. Our new Wild Wild Inner West project, funded by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, is proving to be very popular with millennials with a keen interest in learning more about our urban wildlife including my favourite, the Sacred Ibis.

We farewelled two of our highly talented staff during 2018, Helen Smith and Margot Law. Helen is well known for her work on our Naturally Accessible project and Margot for running a series of highly successful citizen science projects, including Who’s Living on My Land which is featured in this edition of Nature NSW. We wish Helen and Margot every success for the future.

And finally, this is my last Nature NSW. After reflecting on the last 14 months, it is with regret that I have decided to leave the NPA in mid-December to pursue alternative roles. I would like to thank the Executive and staff for their terrific support during my short time with NPA. It is an extraordinary organisation with a world-class track record in advocating for the values, protection and expansion of national parks. I have no doubt that NPA will go from strength to strength under President, Anne Dickson’s great leadership. I plan to remain an active member supporting NPA’s conservation activities as a volunteer.

Wishing you all the best for the future and the holiday season.

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