A report released this morning by a Taskforce established by the NSW Minister for Environment and Climate Change to investigate tourism and national parks sends a clear signal that the State’s National Parks will soon be ‘open for business’, the State’s peak environment group said today.
“We’re disappointed with this new approach to National Parks, which is focused on how much income parks can generate, rather than on conserving nature for nature’s and the community’s sake”, said Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The Government seems to have a clear agenda when it comes to national parks and that is to give the tourism industry greater access to them. We are all in favour of more people visiting national parks, but not at the expense of the fragile areas the parks are supposed to protect.
“This report treats reasonable rules which protect highly sensitive environmental areas by restricting inappropriate development in National Parks as cumbersome red tape.
The report states that the National Parks and Wildlife Act (NPW Act) was ‘ambiguous about allowable activities’ and recommended the Act provide greater certainty for the private sector around activities such as festivals, events and private functions such as weddings and group bookings.
“In fact, rather than the existing NPW Act being ambiguous about these types of activities, they are not allowed in most circumstances, and for good reason. The impact that some of these activities could have on sensitive environmental areas is very great indeed,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Activities which are not based around the appreciation and understanding of nature are clearly inappropriate in a national park.
“The many hundreds of threatened species that call our National Parks home will face enormous pressures in the coming years from climate change. The government must minimise impacts to their habitats if they are to survive not increase them.
“We call on the NSW Government to keep the conservation of nature at the forefront of their minds when they are making any changes to the laws protecting our national parks,” said Ms Faehrmann.