By Graeme Bartrim, President, National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ)
Welcome to a new edition of Protected and a new decade! I hope you all enjoyed family and Christmas celebrations whilst no doubt being
concerned/alarmed by the ongoing drought, associated fires with loss of life, property and wildlife.
This edition contains articles on our recently held Ecotourism Seminar and the ensuing debate, on wildlife after fire, as well as a look at Magnetic Island and land snails.
The health of our environment and surety of water supply are concerning many of us, and there are plenty of predictions of a changed and harsher future. One small example is Professor David Bowman of the University of Tasmania suggesting that we may have to change the time of our major annual holiday so that it does not coincide with an apparently longer fire season.1
There are many reasons for negativity, however, there is much to celebrate and engender hope. The number of selfless hours that are put into our Association to achieve a more representative and resilient national park system in Queensland exemplifies this. This year is the 90th that the Association has been in continuous operation – great achievements and more to come.
The Bank of America Merryl Lynch recently predicted, amongst a number of trends, a significant shift with potentially enormous environmental benefit.2 The bank sees “peak stuff” being achieved over the next ten years. As we wean ourselves off accumulating things and focussing on services and experiences there may be health benefits and less demand on raw resources. This could coincide with an enhanced appreciation of nature.
Kenneth Hayne seems to have a habit of accurately defining the obstacles that we as a community, and as a consequence our politicians, have in actively meeting the long term challenges we face. Ensuring we maintain our biodiversity is such a challenge.
In a speech on the 19th of November 2019 to the Centre for Policy Development Business Roundtable on Climate and Sustainability he described how company directors are clearly responsible for determining tailored Greenhouse risk mitigations.3 At a broader level he argues that the key impediments to change are “Learned Helplessness” (we can do nothing that can help) and “Short Termism” (doing something now will have adverse impacts on employment so doing nothing is an easier choice). Our part in continuing this thinking is worthy of much consideration.
The word “unprecedented” has been used regularly to describe the fire situation across the country. We sympathise deeply with those affected by the fires and praise the many men and women who are actively engaged in controlling them. Present species and park management plans have typically not been written with the extremes of the past couple of months in mind. We are concerned about the biodiversity consequences.
Over one third of Kangaroo island in South Australia has been burnt recently and there are predictions that the populations of the Glossy Black Cockatoo and Kangaroo Island Sminthopsis may not survive. The Sminthopsis is endemic to the Island. The Island is the last South Australian habitat of the Cockatoo, however it occurs in other states including Queensland (where it is listed as Vulnerable under the Nature Conservative Act). It is possible that
our State’s responsibilities to protect biodiversity is becoming more urgent. There is already a strong case to progress to meeting the agreed target of 17% of the State being protected. We are running a campaign to clearly make this point. Further we believe this is a national issue and the Federal
Government should not rely on the oft quoted helpless “It is a State matter”.
11699386 Australian National Outlook
(2019) CSIRO, NAB