Kosciuszko National Park must be protected

An open letter to the NSW Premier – 20 August 2021

Dear Premier Berejiklian,

We, the undersigned, are dismayed by the unprecedented plans your Government has announced for Kosciuszko National Park.  

More than seventy-five years ago your parliamentary forebears legislated to protect the mountain landscapes, alpine habitats and headwaters of the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Snowy rivers as Kosciuszko National Park.  It was a truly precious gift to future generations.  

Their legacy now stands at grave risk.  

Kosciuszko National Park protects a large proportion of our nation’s rare alpine ecosystems.  Planning and management of the National Park has, to date, focused on conserving the Kosciuszko’s conservation and heritage values while providing for sustainable visitation and recreation.  

Planning documents exhibited by your Government, notably the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct Masterplan (the Masterplan) and a draft amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management, abandon the long-standing balance between conservation and legitimate use by removing essential protections against inappropriate development.  These radical plans are entirely out of keeping with Kosciuszko’s status as a National Park and National Heritage Listed place. 

The Masterplan proposes an unsustainable 60% increase in on-park accommodation, clearing habitat for carparks, helicopter access into the resorts, commercial vehicles on walking tracks, and insensitive changes to nationally significant historic sites.  Existing services including waste, water supply and sewerage treatment would be pushed beyond capacity.  

The plans misleadingly describe Kosciuszko National Park as ‘pristine’ and ‘environmentally resilient’.  The reality is that the Park is under severe stress from climate change, mega-fires, feral pests, habitat loss, water and electricity infrastructure and the continuing effects of historic damage from mining, grazing, the Snowy Mountains Scheme and resorts.  

We implore you to set aside these disastrous plans.  In particular, all additional accommodation should be constructed outside Kosciuszko National Park, where it would create regional economic benefits without damaging the environmental values of the Park.  

We request:

  • A minimum 60 day extension of the totally inadequate public exhibition periods for the plans
  • An independent scientific review of the ecological condition and ecological restoration requirements  of Kosciuszko National Park
  • Urgent action to address the continuing threats to Kosciuszko.  

Kosciuszko deserves so much more than ill-considered plans to generate fleeting commercial returns.  The Kosciuszko National Park we love deserves the respect and protection of your Government.  

Yours sincerely,

Dr Nicholas AberleEnvironment Victoria
Tom BagnatFormer Director Metro and Mountains Branch, NPWS
David BellVice President, Bushwalking NSW Inc
Bill BoydPresident, Bushwalking NSW Inc
John BrushHonorary Life Member of Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association Incorporated
Dr Mark BurneTotal Environment Centre
Dr Clare BuswellChair Conservation Commission, Australian Speleological Federation Inc
Lorraine CairnesChair of the Kosciuszko Independent Scientific Committee, Member of the IUCN Commission on Protected Areas
Liz CameronOatley Flora and Fauna
Tara CameronPresident of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society
Dr Alec CostinMountain ecologist, Co-author of Kosciuszko Alpine Flora, former KNP Advisory Committee Member, former fellow at the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies now the Fenner School of the Environment, Former Deputy Chief Plant Industry CSIRO, former advisor to Food Agriculture Organisation UN, Fellow at the Academy of Science.
Andrew CoxCEO Invasive Species Council, senior lecturer, La Trobe University and past president, National Parks Australia Council
Bob DebusChair, Colong Foundation for Wilderness, former Minister for Environment, Attorney General, Minister for Energy and Minister for Emergency Services (NSW)
Bruce DonaldEnvironmental lawyer, former Chair NSW Environmental Defenders Office and Board Member Australian Heritage Commission
Dr Grahame DouglasSchool of Engineering, Design and Built Environment Western Sydney University, President National Parks Association of NSW, member of World Commission on Protected Areas and International Association of Wildland Fire
Professor Don DriscollDirector, Centre for Integrative Ecology and Director TechnEcology Research, Deakin University, immediate past President, Ecological Society of Australia
Adjunct Professor Ian Dunn AMPresident Friends of Currango
Gary DunnettExecutive Officer NPA NSW.  Former Regional Manager, NPWS
Ian EddisonPresident Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association
Penny FiggisOceania Vice Chair for Oceania of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. 
Rachel FitzhardingeChair of National Parks Association Park Management Committee 
Bruce GallFormer Director, Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service
Emeritus Professor Esther GallantJohn Curtin School of Medical Research Australian National University and College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.  President, National Parks Association of the ACT
Wendy GoldsteinFormer Director of Education, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Honorary Lecturer Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Macquarie University
Emeritus Professor Geoff HopeAustralian National University, member Scientific Advisory Panel on Wild Horses in Kosciuszko 
Roger LembitCEO Gingra Ecological Surveys, former member National Parks Advisory Council and Blue Mountains Regional Advisory Committee
Assoc Prof Mark LintermansCentre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra; Former Oceania Regional Chair, IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group
Ross McDonnellChair National Parks Association Landscape Conservation Forum and former Regional Manager, NPWS
Dr Bruce McGregorChair National Parks Australia Council 
Ross McKinneyFormer General Manager Snowy Mountains Council and Regional Manager NPWS
Christine MilneInvasive Species Council ambassador, Former Australian Greens leader, board member for Colong Foundation and Bob Brown Foundation
Nancy PallinPaddy Pallin Foundation 
Rob PallinChairman Paddy Pallin group, NSW Bush Fire Coordinating Committee, former member NPWS South Coast Regional Advisory Committee and Lord Howe Island Board 
Dr Carolyn PettigrewFormer Head of Information Services NPWS, Parkwatch NSW
Professor Catherine PickeringSchool of Environment and Science, Environment Futures Institute, Griffith University
Ian PulsfordFormer Division Manager Conservation Planning and Programs DECC and member of Snowy Mountains Regional Advisory Committee
Anne ReevesFormer member National Parks Advisory Committee, Southern Ranges Regional Advisory Committee and president of NPA NSW
Matt RuchelExecutive Director of the Victorian National Parks Association
Deirdre SlatteryCo-author of Kosciuszko: A Great National Park and author of Australian Alps: Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks
Bev SmilesPresident Inland Rivers Network
Spencer Smith-WhiteFormer Director of Information United Nations Environment Program
Andy Spate AMOptimal Karst Management, former Scientific Officer and Senior Project Officer NPWS, member of the Kosciuszko Independent Scientific Committee, Life member Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association
Dr Helen StevensGuardian of the Pilliga Key Biodiversity Area, formerly on Community Consultative Advisory Committee for the Pilliga Forest   
Cam WalkerCampaigns Coordinator Friends of the Earth Australia
Professor Don WhiteChair Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Honorary Associate Professor University of Sydney, board member NSW Environmental Trust, former board member of NSW Environment Protection Authority
Nicholas WhiteFellow of Australian Speleological Federation and Australian Cave and Karst Assoc
Rod WhitewaySecretary of the Monaro Acclimation Society Inc

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