‘Waste of time’: Australian parks’ conservation efforts are hamstrung by government policies
Australia’s most iconic parks have all suffered a significant decline in numbers since 2020, according to a report released on Thursday.
The report from the National Parks Conservation Council (NPCC) found that the number of national parks in Australia has declined from around 10 million in 2020 to just over 3.2 million today.
It’s not just the loss of national park status that’s causing concern for the nation’s parks.
The report also found the decline in the number and quality of conservation work has hindered efforts to maintain Australia’s environment.
The NPCC said there was no single reason for the decline, but conservationists said the declining numbers were most likely linked to the changing relationship between the government and the private sector.
“It’s very likely the government has been trying to make their business models more competitive with the private sectors and in some cases, has even tried to restrict the work of local conservationists,” the report’s author, Professor Simon Jones, told ABC Radio National.
“There’s also been some work going on with the Commonwealth and private businesses to make sure that the parks are preserved and that there’s not a loss of natural resources.”
The NPPC’s report found there were around 4,200 national parks across Australia, and most of them are in areas where there are no significant public spaces.
The parks report said there were some notable exceptions, including the National Trust’s Alice Springs National Park in Queensland and the Northern Territory’s Woomera National Park.
The NT’s Kakadu National Park is considered to be Australia’s second-biggest national park, after Victoria.
The number of National Parks in Australia have declined from 8,000 in 2020.
The National Parks Foundation says the number is actually at an all-time low, with only a quarter of national protected areas being able to maintain their original ecological character.
The organisation has urged all Australian states and territories to set aside one-third of their national parks for conservation work and other uses, and to set up reserves for conservation in their own areas.
“What you can expect is more and more people will want to come out and do conservation work in their community,” the foundation’s director of operations and planning, Steve Smith, said.