Far North Queensland landholders with nature refuges have joined environmental organisations in welcoming the release of a Protected Area Strategy by the Queensland Government on Saturday 3.10.20. “We hope that the ambitious vision it outlines will be matched by future realistic investment in nature and the nature based economy to match its aims" said FNQ nature refuge holder organisation Rainforest Rescue’s chief executive officer Branden Barber.
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New plan for nature a ‘solid foundation’ for national parks and nature refuges, say FNQ landholders
Far North Queensland landholders with nature refuges have joined environmental organisations in welcoming the release of a Protected Area Strategy by the Queensland Government today.
The Protected Area Strategy identifies priorities for better management of national parks and protected areas on private land, for example nature refuges, and would have benefits for Far North Queensland.
FNQ nature refuge holder organisation Rainforest Rescue’s chief executive officer Branden Barber said it was a step in the right direction.
“Far North Queensland nature refuge landholders and conservation groups welcome the strategy as a good first step by the government.
“We hope that the ambitious vision it outlines will be matched by future realistic investment in nature and the nature based economy to match its aims.
“Many people visit Far North Queensland each year to enjoy our unique natural protected areas and wildlife.
“The timing is right for the government to commit to further invest in jobs that will better care for our national parks and protected areas on private land and deal with environmental threats like feral animals, invasive weeds, and destructive fires.
“To realistically protect nature and grow ecotourism in Far North Queensland, we really need to see a commitment to build on this initial funding in the coming months and years,” Barber said.
Earlier this year, Rainforest Rescue joined nature refuge holders representing over 2 million hectares of Queensland in calling for better funding for the Private Protected Area program.
The Protected Area Strategy is a plan to better protect Queensland’s natural and cultural heritage, and includes a $60 million ‘down payment’ for kicking off the plan.
Our Living Outback spokesperson Riley Rocco said the Protected Area Strategy was a 2017 election commitment that was urgently needed.
“This has the potential to be a turning point in expanding our national parks and nature refuges, taking better care of them with more jobs for land managers, and also better recognising stewardship by traditional owners.
“Queenslanders love to get out in nature, it’s the foundation of our tourism industry, and investment in national parks and the jobs they bring creates a huge opportunity for our state's economic recovery.
“Queensland is lagging every other state and territory in terms of how much of the state is protected, and this Protected Area Strategy should set us on the path to correcting that if it gets properly funded in the coming months and years.
“We call on all parties to commit the resources needed to build a world class protected area system,” Rocco said.
“While this Protected Area Strategy lays a solid foundation for growing and better looking after our national parks and nature refuges, effective implementation will require clear, time bound targets and appropriate levels of funding,” said Sophia Walter, Queensland Manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
“A $60 million down payment is a solid start for the strategy, but we need to see investment of at least $135 million a year to restart progress on fulfilling the government’s vision of a ‘world class’ protected area estate,” said Walter.
More than 79 per cent of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is protected as national parks, conservation parks, State forests and forest reserves. Far North Queensland is home to some of Queensland's most iconic national parks including Daintree Word Heritage (120,000 ha) , Barron Gorge (2,820 ha), Dinden (20,650ha) and Tully Gorge National Parks (900,000 ha). In addition, around 6,1224 hectares are protected areas on 88 private lands known as nature refuges.
Despite having more plant and animal species than any state or territory, Queensland protects the least proportion of land at just 8.2 per cent. This is well below the Queensland Government’s target of 17 per cent protection, in line with international obligations.
The Queensland nature refuges program is a voluntary conservation program for private landholders who wish to protect the natural and cultural values for future generations by dedicating part or all of their land for conservation.
Our Living Outback is part of an alliance of environmental organisations calling on all parties to:
- Expand and better manage Queensland’s national parks to protect wildlife and support tourism and regional development (an additional $55million per year with additional increments in base funding for QPWS to manage new parks as appropriate);
- Increase investment in the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program ($47.5 million over four years; 100 new positions);
- Support nature refuges landholders by expanding and improving the Nature Refuges Program (an additional $24million per year with an annual increment of $4 million to support expansion of the network);
- Continue investment in the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program.