May 15th, 2021Push for national parks
A collaboration of groups, coordinated by Wombat Forestcare, is calling on the government to get on with creating and implementing new parks for Victoria.
Following a two‐year investigation by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, recommendations have been made for large areas of public forests of the Wombat, Wellsford, Mount Cole and Pyrenees Ranges in Victoria’s central west to become national (almost 60,000 hectares) or regional parks (almost 20,000 hectares).
Gayle Osborne from Wombat Forestcare said the Wombat Forest had many values that needed protecting including the headwaters of six major rivers, many rare and threatened species and the storage of carbon.
“How long do we have to wait for the Victorian government to take nature protection issues seriously?” Gayle asked.
“The Environment Minister stated in 2017: ‘the Victorian Government has an ambitious environmental agenda and is prioritising the care and protection of our natural environment’.
“This sentiment is merely nice words on glossy paper until we see real commitment to protection for these special places.”
Victorian National Parks Association executive director Matt Ruchel said without a decision, people were losing “patience, wildlife and habitats and faith in our elected leaders to take these issues seriously”.
The group is calling on others to add their names to an open letter at www.createnewparks.org.au.
Signatory groups already include WWF, Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Wilderness Society, Humane Society International Australia, Friends of the Earth, Bush Heritage, Birdlife Australia, key state groups including National Trust (Victoria) Environment Victoria, and the Victorian National Parks Association, and regional groups such as Biolinks Alliance Inc, Friends groups, Field Naturalist Clubs and Landcare networks.
Among 200 members of Wombat Forestcare meeting on the Lederderg River near Blackwood to discuss their hopes for the Wombat Forest to be reclassified as a National Park were Marg Rowell, who hopes the forest is protected for the future, and her grandson and grandniece.
Image: Sandy Scheltema