Gold Coast environment groups join forces to call for local Minister to champion protected area funding

Gold Coast’s leading environment groups have joined forces to call on local Member of Parliament, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon to champion expansion and better management of Queensland’s protected area estate.

Gecko Environment Council Association President Lois Levy OAM said her organisation has joined Gold Coast conservation and landcare groups, including Watergum, Wildlife Queensland, Friends of Nerang National Parks and Nerang Community Association, in writing to Minister Scanlon to call for increased funding for national parks, nature refuges, and land management jobs like Indigenous rangers in time for the State Budget in June.

“It was good to see the Queensland Protected Area Strategy announced before the election, but more ambitious funding is needed to ensure Queensland’s natural and cultural heritage is healthy for future generations,” Ms Levy said.

“Queensland is the state with the most plant and animal species in Australia but we’re falling behind on taking care of them. Our protected area estate is growing at a snail’s pace: at the rate we’ve been going, it’ll take 127 years to reach the Protected Area Strategy’s target of 17%.

“Our region knows just how much our national parks and natural areas can contribute to our community - they are a home for our wildlife and are powerful drawcards to tourists visiting our area. 

“We simply don’t have the time to waste when we’re trying to safeguard nature against threats like invasive weeds and destructive fires, plus this is our opportunity to harness the economic benefits of Queensland’s best asset - the environment - while our state bounces back from the effects of the pandemic.

“Investing in more national parks and protected areas on private land and their management may be key to getting Queensland’s economy back on track - particularly in the hardest hit regional areas - with new ranger and land management jobs as well as opportunities for domestic tourism.

“Gold Coasters love nature - it’s why we live here - but our neck of the woods and the whole of Queensland have so much to gain from more, well-managed national parks and protected areas on private land. We need to make rangers and landholders are well-resourced to keep our landscapes healthy.

Research released by Professor Sally Driml of University of Queensland earlier this year found Queensland’s national parks and conservation areas in the South East corner generate over $2.074 billion in spending annually and support thousands of jobs.

“We are pleased to know a Gold Coast local is leading the important Environment portfolio and we look forward to working closely with our new Environment Minister to achieve big things for people and nature across our beautiful state,” Ms Levy.