Bushwaking in Bunya Mountains National Park
Photo © Wildlife Queensland
‘Protected areas and forests are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation in Queensland. However, they are not only important for conservation. They also provide a place for people to visit and reconnect with nature—a place for fun, family time and the healthy outdoor lifestyle that is a special feature of life in Australia.’
‘For the past 10 years the 2001 Master Plan for Queensland’s parks system has provided the blueprint for protected area management in Queensland. It helps guide the way QPWS manages national parks to protect natural and cultural values.’ From Department of Environment and Resource Management website.
The Master Plan is now being updated and Wildlife Queensland has submitted comments on the consultation draft. Here is a summary of those comments.
The vision expressed in the document is sound. Many of the principles and concepts essential to deliver fulfilment of the vision such as landscape planning, connectivity, sustainability and resilience are espoused. However the much needed actions required to deliver such essential concepts are not provided. There is insufficient detail of how many of the commendable targets are to be achieved. This is very disappointing and causes major concern to Wildlife Queensland. Granted there are time bound commitments but unfortunately Wildlife Queensland has experienced many commitments not delivered from Governments of all political parties. Should resources required to deliver such defined targets be clearly delineated and committed then Wildlife Queensland would have much more confidence in the likelihood of those targets being achieved.
The document acknowledges that biodiversity is in decline. Human activities have been a major contributing factor in destroying habitat and continue to do so through clearing and fragmentation. Ecosystem services are impacted with negative outcome on resilience and the stability of regional ecosystems. While such activities have a minimal impact on national parks, these activities still have a significant impact on wildlife and, to a lesser degree, forests. The document does not address this aspect in sufficient detail.
It is acknowledged in the document the need to reconnect fragmented vegetation. However fragmentation still occurs in national parks. Rightly or wrongly from the document there is an apparent focus on satisfying the needs of ‘people requirements’ and tourism at the expense of nature and our wildlife. Support in the document for inappropriate recreation, certainly which could not be described as passive recreation, on various protected tenures only strengthens this impression. This is a concern.
Best practice management of national parks and other protected tenures is essential and it is an objective that is strongly supported. However without appropriate buffering to these areas and in places, corridors and connectivity, protection of our wildlife will not be achieved. Unfortunately existing legislation limits best management practice on particular tenures. There is a need to ensure vegetation management and mining legislation complements and not conflicts with that of conservation legislation.
While supportive of improving adaptive and effective management this approach does present significant challenges. One of Wildlife Queensland’s concerns is the existing knowledge gaps of fauna in particular within Queensland. Without doubt the knowledge of Queensland’s flora is second to none among the Australian States and Territories. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about our knowledge of our fauna. If you do not know what you are managing how do you know that the strategies are achieving the objectives? Another concern with the adaptive approach is the need for appropriate monitoring. Monitoring periods must be such so that unacceptable change can be detected and the strategy modified before the change is irreversible.
Finally, from Wildlife Queensland’s understanding of the contents of the recently released Queensland Biodiversity Strategy, there could have been more integration between the two documents particularly in relation to conserving and protecting our wildlife.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.