The state government's latest expansion of the National Parks estate is - in our opinion - a misuse of resources and a misstep in National Park management. The recent purchase of 166,924 hectares in the western division is a significant addition to the now 520,000 ha that has been converted to National Park since 2019.
NSW Farmers supports the proper management of existing national parks, not a wild race to see whose park can be biggest. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is not currently resourced to adequately manage its current holdings, so an estate expansion means the same resources will be spread more thinly.
This is the fundamental problem in our management of national parks. While some are obsessed with declaring hundreds of thousands of hectares of new national parks, surely conservation should not be a race to see which state can have the biggest national parks estate. Because as we know, the current approach has left us with a biodiversity wilderness in the western division.
Inadequate management of national parks has several perverse outcomes. The Black Summer Bushfires decimated a large swathe of public and private land and saw a significant loss of native wildlife. The fuel loads that were allowed to develop in national parks were a huge threat to many of our threatened species, and we are left wondering whether our native species would in fact be safer on private land.
There is also the significant issue of biosecurity risks. The new Biosecurity Act bound public and private land managers by the same rules, but public land managers are not adequately resourced to meet their general biosecurity duty relating to pests and weeds. These pests and weeds that thrive on poorly managed public land quickly spread to neighbouring farms and create a greater management burden for private landholders.
The risks associated with poorly managed national parks cannot be underestimated. The NSW Government's attention must be on appropriately managing existing public land, not expanding it.
- James Jackson, NSW Farmers president
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