Welcome to our Spring issue of Protected – though it’s been a very dry, warm start to the season. Welcome also to Sara Byers – our new Marketing and Communications Manager who started with us early October.
A recent highlight was the annual Romeo Lahey lecture, this year given by Prof Hugh Possingham on The Future of Biodiversity Conservation. In a great lecture, Hugh presented interesting factual information that challenged our thinking, and how we regard the status quo. One of these that struck me was that if Queensland was a country, it would be the 10th largest in the world! This makes sense, given the diversity of our landscapes and ecosystems, as our state spans such a wide latitudinal range. Another intriguing statistic was that Australia has 10 of the top 100 ecological scientists globally; an amazing achievement for a nation with such a small population.
There have been some major environmental announcements by the Federal Government recently. One that received a fair bit of media attention was the release of the (draft) feral cat management plan – a 10 year plan across all states and territories to reduce the impacts of feral cats on our native wildlife. The statistic of cats killing over 6 million animals in Australia every day is challenging to comprehend. Since arriving in Australia with Europeans, cats have played a major role in the extinction of 34 mammal species. They have spread across 99% of our country (only some islands and specially constructed fenced-off areas are cat-free). I think we all await the implementation of this plan with positive expectation; they are a threat to our wildlife that needs to be actively reduced.
Another announcement that did not generate much attention was Australia is one of the first countries to sign the High Seas Treaty. The high seas are the international waters lying beyond the boundaries of any country. They make up roughly two-thirds of our planet’s oceans, but only about one percent is currently protected. Once 60 countries have ratified the High Seas Treaty, it will come into force, allowing for the creation of international marine parks on the world’s high seas. Signing the treaty is the first crucial step.
Although the high seas may seem somewhat distant from National Parks in Queensland, they are part of conserving our state, national and global biodiversity. It’s all connected, so protecting and managing one part will have benefits for the whole system.
NPAQ is one of many State based National Park Associations across Australia; others are South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. They come together as the National Parks Australia Council (NPAC). NPAC recently had their AGM in Adelaide, where a number of issues relevant to Park protection and management across the States were discussed; more on this in upcoming issues of Protected and Neck of the Woods. Queensland hosted the AGM 4 years ago; it will be our turn again soon.
Our next Protected will be out in January – so I hope you get a chance to appreciate our unique natural areas as part of your festive season activities. This year has been one of considerable change for NPAQ, but change with a lot of potential and positive opportunities for the years ahead.