The Palaszczuk Government has released a new strategy detailing how protecting and revitalising national parks will play a vital role in supporting economic recovery for Queensland.
Queensland’s Protected Area Strategy 2020-2030 is a new ten-year plan for supporting the growth, management and sustainability of national parks and other protected areas and includes an initial investment of $60 million.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch announced the release of the Strategy, which includes a significant investment in the expansion of protected areas and a doubling of ranger numbers in the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program.
“The Palaszczuk Government will invest $28 million in the strategic acquisition of properties across the state for dedication as protected areas. This is in addition to the $6.5 million currently held for strategic acquisitions in far north Queensland for which negotiations are already underway,” Minister Enoch said.
“A further $8 million will also be spent to expand the Private Protected Areas Program that supports landholders to establish Nature Refuges and Special Wildlife Reserves on their land.”
The critical role of First Nations peoples in co-stewarding Queensland’s environment will be supported through a significant expansion of the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program.
“We’re doubling the number of Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers who do important work looking after Country. By increasing Indigenous Ranger numbers to 200 we’re delivering jobs for First Nations peoples and supporting the incredibly important contribution of First Nations peoples, and their generations of knowledge and experience in conserving cultural heritage and the environment,” Ms Enoch said.
Minister Enoch said a further $5.2 million would also be invested to continue the Revitalising National Parks program.
“This is on top of an existing investment of over $45 million in upgrades to National Park infrastructure and an additional $7.5 million boost to park management which has been rolling out over the past three years,” Ms Enoch said.
Minister Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government announced in 2019 that it would transfer up to 20,000 hectares of State Forest in south east Queensland, where logging will cease, to protected area by 2024, and the first 6,000 hectares of this transfer would occur in the current financial year.
“Our Government has expanded Queensland’s protected area system by more than 1.2 million hectares since 2015 and the Strategy and investment we’re announcing today will continue this expansion and establish a pathway for the growth and protection of protected areas over the next 10 years,” Ms Enoch said.
“National parks and other protected areas will play a big role in Queensland’s economic recovery.
“They are a vital part of Queensland’s vibrant tourism industry; they support jobs and industries in our regions and provide a connection to nature and culture that is vital to our overall health and wellbeing.
“Queensland’s biodiversity is extraordinary and is linked to a deep cultural history stewarded by two of the oldest living cultures on earth—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“Over the next decade, we’ve mapped out several ways we’ll be transforming our protected area system, to ensure that our most important areas are safeguarded.
“Action is already underway. We’re enhancing fire management to better protect our communities, wildlife and vegetation from extreme weather events caused by climate change.
“We’ve created a new class of protected area, Special Wildlife Reserves, and have also been opening doors for more nature-based visitor experiences, investing strongly in innovative partnerships.
“Partnering with First Nations peoples is at the heart of our 10-year plan, with First Nations’ knowledge and expertise critical to delivering outcomes.
“This new Strategy provides a pathway to manage and grow our protected area system—providing real benefits to Queenslanders and First Nations peoples and delivering strong environmental conservation,” Ms Enoch said.
Andrew Picone, Protected Areas Program Coordinator with the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) said that by 2030, the protected area strategy has the potential to turn Queensland's extinction crisis around by better managing threats to wildlife as we make progress towards protecting 17% of the state.
"The Strategy captures the urgency of Queensland's role in averting a global extinction crisis and with the right investment, has the potential to deliver game-changing outcomes for endangered wildlife while boosting the economy," Mr Picone said.
"The Queensland Conservation Council supports the transition to a First Nations led model for expansion and management of national parks."
Susanne Cooper, President of the National Parks Association of Queensland said, “Queenslanders love to get out in national parks, it’s the cornerstone of our tourism industry. Investment in national parks and the jobs they bring should be a key plank in our economic recovery.”
For more information go to: www.qld.gov.au/ProtectedAreas
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch