New master plan for Queensland's protected areas, forests and wildlife
Queenslanders will be offered an annual weekend of free camping in the state's massive network of National Parks as part of a new Master Plan which maps out the future of the state's natural environment over the next decade.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Queenslanders will be offered an annual weekend of free camping in the state’s massive network of National Parks as part of a new Master Plan which maps out the future of the state’s natural environment over the next decade.
Environment Minister Vicky Darling said in the wake of Queensland’s recent natural disasters – and in a changing climate – it was critical the government not only plan today for the natural environment of tomorrow but encourage all Queenslanders to get on board and have a say.
She said that included encouraging campers back to the state’s 440-plus camping grounds in National Parks and State Forests by waiving permit fees on one nominated weekend each year.
“This is a free holiday that at the same time will increase the popularity of our natural assets, promote conservation awareness and in turn benefit local business,” Ms Darling said.
“I’d encourage all Queensland families to get out and spend a weekend in our pristine national parks and forests when the free weekend deal kicks in from next year.”
Ms Darling made the announcement today while releasing Naturally Queensland 2020, the new blueprint for protected areas and wildlife, which addresses the multitude of challenges the state’s protected areas will face over the next 10 years in the wake of Queensland’s natural disasters.
“This new plan is an evolution of our 2001 Master Plan for Queensland’s national parks system and takes us a significant step forward, outlining our comprehensive approach to managing our land and seas and wildlife, specifically in light of the challenges we will face over the next decade.”
Targets outlined in the plan include:
§The establishment of Friends of National Parks groups at four national parks and reinvigoration of the QPWS volunteers program by 2013
§The availability of Connect with Nature school holiday programs at all popular/high profile parks by 2013
§The completion of Statements of Management Intent for all National Parks by 2012
§Publication of a State of the Parks report by 2015
§The completion of a management plan or statement of management intent for all protected areas by 2015
§A contribution to a net gain in either mature or actively regenerating koala bushland habitat in South-east Queensland by 2020
“It responds directly to a much more diverse and challenging environment we face now and will continue to face into the future – an environment that has been characterised in recent years by drought and then floods and cyclones,” Ms Darling said.
“Supporting our natural environment to recover from these natural events will take time and our immediate and future approach to that recovery will have a profound impact on the ability of species and ecosystems to bounce back – hopefully in a better and healthier condition than before.
“Over the next decade balancing population growth, emerging resource industries and community expectations in a changing climate makes the decisions we take today critical.
“How we respond today will ultimately determine the resilience of natural Queensland into the future.
“This is an overarching plan, going beyond the actual National Parks network and into other areas of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service business, including marine parks, forests and wildlife management.
“But we can’t achieve this enormous task alone. Its success relies on a partnership with the community – our children, indigenous people, landholders, local government and other organisations and industry.
“So the release of the draft plan today is a chance for everyone to get on board have a say and tell us their expectations and I invite Queenslanders who value our natural systems to get involved.”
Releasing the plan, Ms Darling announced that a record number of rangers had now been employed to manage and protect our natural environment.
“Queensland is one of the world’s most naturally diverse places, with more than 1300 National Parks, marine parks, other protected areas and State Forests.
“The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service manages more than eight million hectares of national park and more than three million hectares of State forest and forest reserve, seven million hectares of State marine park and 36 million hectares of World Heritage areas including the Great Barrier Reef.
“Additionally, Queensland has nearly three million hectares under nature refuge covenants, mostly on private land.
“For the first time we now have more than 800 rangers employed to look after our parks and forests. This year, I have also allocated $7 million for fire management - and we’re as strong as ever on combating pests.
“It is a challenging time for conservation, with population expansion, natural disasters and climate change.
“This plan helps focus our responses to these challenges and highlights the actions we will take.”
A draft of the revised Master Plan is open for public consultation for four months. The draft is available from DERM in hard copy and at www.derm.qld.gov.au
Workshops informing communities about the key planks of the plan will be held in regional areas throughout August, September and October.
Media Contact: Chris Taylor 0419 710 874
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