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.