Sandon.
Sandon. Adam Hourigan

Parks need people, resources and support

ALTHOUGH environmentalists/greens (G/E's) and conservationists (C's) have many similar ideals, they are as different as chalk and cheese. The main difference between them is E/G's consider people as the problem (except themselves), whereas C's consider people part of the ecosystem and the solution.

The world is not a static place. Over time it has become one large, ecologically borderless community. The concept that preservation can be achieved by putting up a "national park" sign is no longer applicable. Now these areas have to be managed. And this needs people, resources, money and support.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) has set the standard. It buys an area, fences it, removes all invasive plants and feral animals, and then restocks it.

AWC's objective is to protect and enhance Australia's endangered wildlife, mammals, animals, ecosystems and biodiversity. It owns and manages 23 sanctuaries covering three million hectares. AWC is acutely aware of the value of public access, and its potential to encourage a wider public understanding of conservation issues.

"Our" national parks have the attitude people are a problem. My local park, Yuraygir, actively discourages people. How? Off-road trails are padlocked. Even along the in-out corridors, there are no pull-outs.

But what about the beautiful, four-day, 60km Yuraygir coastal walk! Great, except there is no park access to fresh water. On Brooms Head beach I've only come across a few intrepid trekkers. Most were stressed and one seemed dehydrated. And this was during winter-spring.

No Yuraygir campground has power or water, even though Lake Arragan and Red Bluff are within sight of both. This for some reason leaves me feeling that the NPs are giving us the finger.

In the 15/2 DEX there was a report telling how Wooli residents used "beach scraping" and sand nourishment to reduce erosion. To save their community. For renourishment they need sand from Yuraygir, which completely surrounds Wooli. No way Jose!

The NPs and the state forests control over 50% of the valley's land and 90% of its coastline; they contribute about zilch to our economy.

It is time our NPs became a constructive part of the community and embraced people in their operation. If they don't, they will lose the support of the people - support which is necessary for the parks and the valley to prosper.

John Ibbotson, Gulmarrad



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