The Nature Conservation Council has welcomed an announcement by the NSW government that up to 12,000 hectares of existing national parks will be set aside as highly protected wildlife sanctuaries, aimed at bringing threatened species back from the brink of extinction.
The three highly protected wildlife sanctuaries will be surrounded by high fences and actively managed to remove feral animals and promote the recovery of iconic threatened species.
‘Over the past two centuries, our native wildlife has suffered a death of a thousand cuts, with populations of many species in sustained decline owing to loss of habitat and predation by feral predators,’ said Pepe Clarke, NCC chief executive officer.
‘Establishing highly protected wildlife sanctuaries is an important insurance policy for our most threatened native species.
‘Feral predators have had a devastating impact on native mammal species. Pest-free wildlife sanctuaries offers a fresh chance for native species on the brink of extinction.’
Professor Tim Flannery, former Australian of the Year and a director of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, has been a prominent advocate for the establishment of fenced, pest-free wildlife sanctuaries.
‘It is clear that new strategies are required to reverse the sustained decline in populations of native wildlife in New South Wales,’ said Mr Clarke.
‘Eradication of feral predators within fenced sanctuaries has been shown to dramatically increase the likelihood of successful recovery of native mammal populations.
‘However, to be most effective, these sanctuaries need to be complemented by sustained investment in the establishment and management of national parks, restoration of large-scale wildlife corridors and improved legislative protection for forests, woodlands and wildlife.
‘Recent moves by the NSW government to weaken land-clearing laws and forestry regulations are inconsistent with their stated commitment to ensuring the survival of threatened species.
‘The benefits of this important new conservation initiative must not be undermined by continued attacks on our most important environmental protection laws.’
The NSW government recently changed land-clearing laws to allow landholders to clear large areas of native vegetation without prior approval, and has released a proposal to permit logging operations to proceed without first searching for threatened species in the logging area.