The National Parks Australia Council (NPAC) says it is extremely concerned that PM Tony Abbott ‘so readily disregards the true value of national parks’.
The NPAC was responding to Mr Abbott’s comments to a timber industry dinner in Canberra last Tuesday that. ‘We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked-up forest.’
NPAC president Michelle Prior said, ‘While occupying less than eight per cent of Australia, national parks are a major drawcard in the annual $23 billion nature-based tourism industry.
‘As evidenced by substantial research, access to the natural environment also contributes significantly to health and wellbeing.
‘National parks are critical to conserving our unique biodiversity, and in fact, appear to be the only effective strategy in saving the 70per cent of Australia’s threatened species in decline.
‘Additionally, national parks deliver other services, such as protection of urban water catchments and climate amelioration.’
CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW Kevin Evans said, ‘Australia’s national parks are not only a national achievement, but a legacy for the future. The majority of Australians citizens value and appreciate national parks.
‘Unfortunately, the prime minister is out of touch with contemporary opinions and knowledge.
‘National Parks are not “locked up” – they have the most generous form of land tenure available, being publicly available to all.
‘However, since inception, national parks have experienced competition from economic interests, and [are] sought after as highly prized public lands for private gain.
‘National parks are the last bastion for conservation. However, these critically important areas, have recently been beleaguered by an extensive variety of external threats – grazing, logging, tourism construction, hunting, prospecting, motorised recreation.
‘In particular, national parks are increasingly coming under attack from the governments that created them in the first place.’