From the President - Spring 2020 - National Parks Association of Queensland

From the President – Spring 2020

Author: Graeme Bartrim, President, National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ)

Photography: Kerry Trapnell

Welcome to the Spring edition of Protected and wishing you all safety and good health in these uncertain times.

In this edition you will find articles about the upcoming election, threatened species recovery, nature-based recovery, a ranger spotlight, and more. The article about the election prepared by Larissa Cordner is timely given the State will be going to the polls in two months. We are concerned that the promised Protected Area Strategy with funding is still not released, let alone being implemented.

Advocacy is an important function of the Association and there is constant consideration around how to be most effective. Recently we sought member views on a policy regarding ecotourism and national parks. Although the proposed policy was generally supported, a wide range of views was expressed. We have formed the view that it is better to be a contributor to the ongoing debate around ecotourism in parks rather than be on the sidelines. The main goal is to grow the park estate and ensure its proper management for the long term.

It is generally true that the approval process for new development proposals consumes much money, time and energy and often generates more heat than light. It is also generally true that such processes conclude with the public being assured that all is well as the development will proceed but with a myriad of stringent conditions. A common weakness is that during construction and operation there is inadequate policing of compliance and insufficient refinement of conditions to ensure key risks are being managed well. For ecotourism in parks to be accepted in the long term, assurance and responsiveness of operators must be of the highest standard. The failure of Queensland coastal national park island resorts is a salient reminder.

It is often said that the conservation movement is weakened because it is disunited, yet it is a reality that groups do have a range of views – this is evidenced both by the number of groups and by the effort required to prepare any kind of joint statement. Typically, one end of the spectrum is of the view that an action should not proceed and the other end that it should be well managed. It seems that the radical and revolutionary ideas are as valuable as the pragmatist who works on making the best of the present situation. One sets the longer-term goal while the other optimizes in a much shorter time frame. Both can generally agree on a high level objective, however, divergence can occur when considering action, responses and priorities in real time. The recognition of smoking being bad for human health was news in the 1960s, yet it has taken decades and large sums of government educational funding to significantly reduce the number of smokers in Australia. Self-interest was clearly at stake in that case. Our declining biodiversity does not have such an obvious link to our self-interest, however, many studies now show the links between national parks and human mental and physical health. Continuing to do little now and into the future will be consequential for us and for biodiversity. Science keeps reminding us of this.

As this is my last note as President, I wish to thank all Councillors, staff and volunteers for their work and goodwill over the past three years. Deb Marwedel, Neil Williams and Yvonne Parsons who are also stepping down from Council are recognised in particular for their wisdom and generosity. People giving of their time united in knowing the importance of conserving our biodiversity for its own sake and for community and visitor enjoyment is vital to the Association. I wish every success to the Association as a robust protected area estate becomes a reality for the state.

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