Keep them wild

Community Action Platform


Australia’s national parks are under attack

Overview courtesy of James McCormack, editor of Wild magazine

Australia’s national parks are under attack. These public lands—places of outstanding natural beauty, of immense ecological, cultural and recreational value—are being siphoned off to developers who see them as places of profit, not protection.

Across the country, proposals are afoot to develop our wild lands for private gain. From the Victorian High Country to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, from Tasmania’s Southwest Wilderness to the Northern Territory’s interior, national parks in Australia are up for grabs. Some parks have already been plucked off by developments such as Queensland’s Scenic Rim Trail and Tasmania’s Three Capes Track.

These developments vary between parks and states, but seem to be led by tourism departments and not biodiversity-focused park-service ecologists. Irrespective of location, the premise is similar: private operators lease land—or use new structures built by government agencies—in national parks, which they alter to suit customers paying top dollar for an exclusive walking experience. This alteration involves everything from constructing substantial building complexes to hardening and widening tracks to building helicopter landing pads. The results are ecological impacts, compromised wilderness values, helicopter-noise impacts across tens of thousands of hectares, the closure of existing campsites for independent walkers, and areas becoming far less publicly accessible.

This does not belong in our national parks. Construction of accommodation complexes on the Three Capes Walking Track in Tasmania.
Photo: Rob Blakers
The sad thing is that none of this is necessary. Private operators can already guide paying customers into our national parks without building new structures, and without compromising wilderness values. Developers argue that their proposals are about employment but there are far better ways of creating jobs in national parks that don’t involve constructing mini villages that permanently disfigure or damage our natural heritage. The problem actually lies in the fact that developers see a national park as a cheap marketing tool. They recognise how much we love our parks, and would largely prefer to have their accommodation complexes built one kilometre inside a park boundary than one kilometre outside it – it makes it easier for marketers to convince customers of its beauty.

There’s one other thing common to many of these proposals: secrecy. This is what is changing. While government departments and private entities attempt to keep the details of proposed developments hidden, shines a light on these proposals. This is a space to keep track of developments in national parks and other public lands across Australia, and highlight the shift of focus of National Parks’ Services across the country from protection to profit.

So get involved now. The fight against these proposals will not be easy. But in the history of this country, so much of our greatest natural heritage has only been protected after protracted struggle. And if you know of a national park that’s in developers’ sights that’s not on this website, let us know. Public knowledge is the key to fighting this scourge.

Protect Our National Parks is a space to keep track of proposals for private large-scale construction projects in national parks and other public land across Australia. It gives an overview of the problem, showing the results of the National Parks’ Service shift of focus from protection to profit. The site also helps community organisations battling these proposals by providing a central space to host information, educate the public and media, and monitor the status of these projects.
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