Queensland’s ‘national parks at risk’

More than three quarters of Queensland’s protected parks are at risk but the government says it won’t waste taxpayers’ money on bureaucratic red tape.

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The Sustainable Management of National Parks and Protected Areas Auditor-General report, tabled to state parliament on Tuesday, found there was no consistent system in place to conserve the state’s natural heritage in its protected parks.

It found 83 per cent of parks are at risk due to not having compulsory management plans.

Auditor-General Glenn Poole found that out of the state’s 576 protected park areas, the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) had developed management plans for only 98 of them.

“The (Nature Conservation Act 1992) requires the plans to identify the key natural and cultural values, and strategies for day-to-day and long-term management to protect these values,” he wrote.

“The Act also states that plans should be prepared as soon as practicable after the dedication of a protected area.”

He said without park management plans, conservation activities undertaken may be insufficient, or inconsistently applied over the long term.

“In my view, the absence of park management plans for most national parks and protected areas creates a risk,” he wrote.

‘Long term plans needed’

In the report, Mr Poole recommended that DERM implement a coordinated, integrated and long-term planning framework across the state.

He also advised the department to develop performance indicators that were capable of fairly representing the agency’s achievements in managing national parks.

However Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Kate Jones told state parliament on Tuesday that the DERM director-general had advised Mr Poole that to implement a formal plan for every national park would cost up to $60 million and take more than 30 years.

“I do not believe that this is the best use of taxpayers’ money or the expertise and resources of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service,” she said.

“There are more efficient ways to achieve good park management outcomes without undue bureaucracy.

“We want our rangers on the ground, not sitting behind desks doing paperwork.”