Nature NSW Summer 2019

Anne Dickson, President of National Parks Association of NSW

The idyllic image of summertime lazing by the local creek, pool or beach will be illusive for many this year as almost all of New South Wales is drought affected and bushfires threaten communities and wildlife. Australia’s long-term drought/rain burn/regenerate cycles are partnered with emotional challenge as we live through the downside and hope for the upside.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all the NPWS staff, staff of other agencies, and volunteers who have been fighting the bushfires. The battle takes an enormous toll on all involved and their families. It will take some time to comprehend the impact on landscapes and communities from this long fire season. We can only hope for the recovery and regeneration that we have seen in the past. Let’s also hope that the resources and well-informed fire prevention and fire management policies we need find strong support from government and community.

Conflict in priorities and opinions becomes stark in the dispute between community, irrigation and ‘environmental’ water. As nature conservationists we look in disbelief at the images of vast irrigation dams filled with water for broadacre cropping while towns are trucking in water and marshes burn. The birds, fish, land animals and insects are dying, as are the trees and native plants in many of our national parks. How we are responding to the realities of a land of extremes and changing climate is clearly inadequate.

It is politically fashionable to call for more and more large-scale infrastructure to be built with great haste. Such acts may look decisive but most are not thoughtful or strategic. Dams don’t make it rain. Where are the water conservation and management policies that recognise a drying continent? Where is the national push for regenerative agriculture to nurture rather than exploit the land? Why are we investing in Snowy 2.0? A project being sold as a must have part of our renewable energy future that will destroy rare alpine and sub alpine ecosystems that we would hope climate change mitigation will protect. A perverse outcome when there are better options both environmentally and for our renewable energy needs.

NPA continues to have an important role in these debates. Thanks to all our members and staff who are working to bring much needed empathy, existing knowledge and rationality to the deliberations. Make sure you are also spending time out there enjoying our exceptional natural world.

Nature NSW Online  – Summer 2019

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