The NSW Government must double the size of the state’s national parks estate, complete the marine reserve system, and invest very substantially in landscape-scale connectivity projects to avert the extinction crisis that is sweeping across NSW, leading conservation groups have warned.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW and the National Parks Association of NSW released their Vision for Nature Conservation today to coincide with the World Parks Congress.
The organisations are calling on all governments to intensify efforts to halt the loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity by embracing an ambitious program that is proportionate to the threats.
- Terrestrial Parks: Ensure the survival of all NSW terrestrial ecosystems in perpetuity by conserving at least 17% of the state in national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas by 2020. Currently only 9% of the state is protected in reserves.
- Marine Parks: Ensure the survival of all NSW marine species and ecosystems in perpetuity by creating a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of marine protected areas by 2020. A marine park for the Sydney region is the missing piece in the states marine reserve network.
- Forests: Restore 15% of native vegetation and forests to near natural condition by 2050. Currently only about 9% is in a natural condition.
- Connectivity: NSW requires a well-managed, well-resources and integrated network of natural areas. Governments must invest far more in the Greater Eastern Ranges project and preserve the state’s network of travelling stock routes.
- Governance: Natural areas and native species must have strong legal protections against exploitation. The current review of biodiversity conservation laws must result in stronger protections.
“If nothing changes, the list of animal and plant species facing extinction in NSW is on track to reach 1000 by 2020,” NPA CEO Kevin Evans said. “Even a species as iconic and beloved as the koala is at great risk of extinction in parts of the state if urgent action is not taken to reduce threats to its survival.
“The diversity of native plants and animals in this state is continuing to decline at an alarming rate, despite successive governments having enacted laws and financed programs aimed at reversing these trends. The scale of the response has simply not matched the scale of the threats.”
NCC CEO Kate Smolski said: “We challenge all political parties to embrace our vision for conservation in NSW and to invest adequately to restore living landscapes and bring threatened species back from the brink.
“This week’s World Parks Congress is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for the state government to demonstrate leadership in conservation on an international stage.
“This government needs to show more vision and leadership on conservation.”
Environment Minister Robert Stokes announced some small additions to the national parks estate this week but ruled out any announcement on a Sydney Marine Park during the conference. He is also scheduled to make an announcement about a World Harbour Project next Monday.
“Surely that can’t be all,” Ms Smolski said.
Media contact: James Tremain, 0419 272 254 or 9516 0206.