Friday, April 4, 2008

National Parks to increase 50% with eco fund

Queensland will increase its National Park estate by 50% by 2020 and the area under this protection will rise from almost 7.6 million hectares to around 12 million hectares, Premier Anna Bligh said today.

Ms Bligh announced the expansion while attending National Park centenary celebrations at Queensland’s first National park, Witches Falls.

The expansion will be paid for by an 'Australian-first' green fund, Eco Fund Queensland.
“This fund will mean we’re going to expand our National Parks by 50% by 2020 – reaching a target of 12 million hectares by 2020 – that’s almost two Tasmania's or the size of North Korea.
The total area under conservation tenure will grow from 8.3 million hectares to 20 million hectares – the size of Scotland and England combined.

“Eco Fund Queensland will allow the government, companies and in time even interstate and overseas entities to invest in it - while at the same time securing the benefit of adding to Queensland’s conservation areas.

Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation Andrew McNamara said that the Fund would work in two ways.

“First there is a current need for developments to avoid or minimise environmental impacts.
“This requirement will remain, however increasingly some environmental impacts are unavoidable, particularly with major infrastructure works.

“In such cases proponents of these developments will now be able to approach the new Eco Fund Queensland. This is only after all other measures to avoid and mitigate impacts have been taken. Then the remaining impacts can be off-set by a financial contribution to the Fund.
“Eco Fund Qld will then professionally identify and secure an appropriate off-set on their behalf – many of which will make their way into national parks and the protected area estate.
“Secondly, government, industry, and in time, interstate and overseas entities will be able to approach Eco Fund Qld in order to off-set their greenhouse emissions.

“The funds these organisations contribute will be used to secure accredited carbon off-sets within the State. Eco Fund will also manage the Government’s carbon offset plans.”
The Premier said in this term the State Government had already allocated $65 million to buy more protected areas.

“And just yesterday, we gazetted another 24,528 hectares of National Park, significantly increasing the area of Culgoa Floodplain and Bribie Island National Parks.
“Queensland has 282 national parks, covering almost 7.6 million hectares from desert to rainforest to reef and we want more. Future generations will thank us for our foresight and planning.”

Ms Bligh also announced this morning that her Government will freshen up the image of Witches Falls, and all of Queensland’s National Parks, with an extra $643,000 for a three-component campaign to encourage more people to come and enjoy our great parks.
“I’m pleased to announce that my Government will invest an extra $643,000 in promoting our National Parks, over the next seven months to October.

“Combined with the $1.26 million currently being spent, we’re investing almost $2 million to promote our parks to local, interstate and overseas visitors.

The new promotional campaign will be run by Tourism Queensland, which will invest a total of $490,000, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which will contribute $150,000.
The campaign will:

1. highlight the great natural adventures to be enjoyed in our Parks, to New South Wales and Victorian residents.
2. produce a half-hour television documentary to be aired in July to celebrate 100 years of our National Parks.
3. undertake an online campaign, (through September and October), aimed at encouraging Queenslanders to enjoy our National Parks during Spring, including a promotional DVD

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