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National parks are the least locked up land there is

Across Australia, the debate over national parks is escalating. This has been triggered by a series of significant changes in the approach to managing parks, with moves to open them to logging, grazing…

With the number of visitors Australia’s national parks get every year, can we really call them locked up? Flickr/The 0bserver

Across Australia, the debate over national parks is escalating. This has been triggered by a series of significant changes in the approach to managing parks, with moves to open them to logging, grazing and shooting.

The language being used to support these policy changes is revealing. According to politicians and some members of the public, the changes are needed in response to a problem: that national parks are “locked up”.

The term “locked up” has long been used by opponents of national parks, but it is reaching a new prominence in the current debate. The Queensland National Parks Minister regularly uses the phrase in press releases. It can be found in letters to the editor concerning debates over park use and in the recent NSW Upper House Enquiry into the Management of Public Lands in NSW.

But when were national parks ever “locked up”? The Australian tourism industry has always promoted national parks as the cornerstone of in-bound tourism. “Come and experience the real Australia – the reef, the rainforest, the outback!”.

National parks are less “locked up” than almost any other land tenure. They are open to all. Where do you see the signs “Trespassers will be prosecuted”? Not at the entrance to national parks. Instead, Queensland government figures show national parks receive 51 million visits from Australians and 7.9 million visits from international tourists each year.

Welcoming nearly 60 million visits per year is a strange definition of being locked up!

Two types of national park?

Another rationale being used for the changes is that some national parks are more equal than others. In justifying the opening of national parks in Queensland to grazing, the Deputy Premier and National Parks Minister both explained that these were not “pristine” national parks, like the rainforests of the Wet Tropics.

The national parks now subject to grazing were acquired with funding from the Commonwealth Government under the National Reserves Program. The program aims to develop a comprehensive system of conservation areas that represent the full range of ecosystems in Australia.

Achieving this aim means establishing reserves in areas that previously had other land uses (which is also true of most of the land in the “pristine” Wet Tropics). The lands acquired for parks are properties considered to be in good to very good condition, in the most poorly represented bioregions in the country.

But in Queensland it seems that areas with any form of prior land use are not considered worth protecting. The Minister said that “pristine and long-protected parks would be protected, but 875,000 ha of more recently allocated parks were likely to be rescinded and opened to logging and grazing”.

One Agforce Regional President was quoted in The Australian suggesting that national parks without grazing are a “wasted resource”. He argued the government should consider “regular grazing of the less important national parks to help pay for more significant national parks” – further underlining the emerging distinction between “worthy” and “less-worthy” parks.

Australia lags behind

This use of negative language about parks is more than just political rhetoric. The reality is that Australia lags behind much of the world in the establishment of national parks and conservation reserves. Recent policy changes will exacerbate this problem.

Queensland has less than 5% of its land in national park and less than 7% in any type of conservation reserve. The global target set by the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Australia is a signatory is 17%. Australia as a whole has 13.5% in conservation reserves, putting Queensland at half the national average.

Compared internationally, Queensland’s national park coverage is comparable to that of the bottom 30% of countries globally.

Despite this, the Queensland government has abandoned plans to increase national park coverage in the under-represented regions of the State. Two million hectares of land identified for conservation have been taken off the table. This was justified on the basis that they were not World Heritage-listed forests, and that they had been “locked up” by the previous government. Indeed, it seems that the government is reviewing the status of all national parks declared since 2002.

National parks and conservation areas are recognised as the cornerstone of efforts to conserve nature and the world’s biodiversity. They are also a critical source of ecological services that support our economy and quality of life. But there now seems to be little room on our continent for places that exist just for conservation and enjoyment of nature, and are freely accessible to all.

Join the conversation

49 Comments sorted by

  1. Chris Owens

    Professional

    The term "locked up" is loaded to denote unfair restriction to access, whilst only private exploitation and harmful activities are restricted.

    It is ironic that governments withdraw adequate funding of parks then suggest private exploitation as a means to restore funding required for management of these parks.

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    1. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Chris Owens

      I think you, like the authors are not being particularly accurate when it comes to making out the parks are open to all. There are (in NSW at least) restriction in many parks (and increasingly in other land tenures) to access from vehicles / horses / camping. This is viewed as a restriction to access to many, and necessary for conservation management by others. Of course, the pro's and anti's blame each other and on and on it goes. But lets be realistic. What is driving this, money or the environment? Access costs, the less passive the access, the greater the cost. Maybe its been about money all along.

      The irony (for me at least) is that we have all these groups squabbling over what they disagree with, and rarely agreeing on what they have in common. That most folks do not want to be left with a degraded, underfunded, over exploited parks system.

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    2. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to John Foley

      The primary objective of National Parks is nature conservation including protection of biodiversity. If 5% of QLD is National Parks, non passive recreation is potentially available in the remaining 95% not in a National Park. Still not enough?

      Parks can also allow for passive recreation. Camping is available in designated areas. But riding horses and 4 wheel driving are not passive activities and need to be either excluded or tightly managed. Horses cause erosion and disperse weed seed. In a local park, horse riders enter the park illegally and now pasture grasses deposited in dung along walking tracks have seeded and spreading into the adjacent bush, choking the indigenous vegetation.

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    3. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Chris Owens

      Why are you asking me what is and isn't enough? Are you going to tell me what I'm thinking next? Are you presuming I'm totally ignorant? Enough with the preaching to the converted champ. Its looking like a failure. All these things you've said maybe fairly self evident to you, but they are not to much of the public. Why is this so? Do you think it is realistic that certain views and values are going to be imposed upon people and they are going to become magically enlightened overnight? Well, that didn't happen. Mores the pity. So, here in NSW the tories have given the parks and the greenies a kick to gauge public reaction. Not looking real good.

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    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Foley

      Mr Owens has made some fair points about activities that should not be permitted in National Parks. Just because the average Mug Punter is pretty clueless about the consequences of permitting these destructive activities is no reason for allowing them.

      Although they were written in another age, the works of Alexis de Tocqueville on the dangers of mob rule ("Democracy in America" and "The Old Regime and the Revolution") are pertinent reading.

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  2. Clive Bond

    logged in via Facebook

    I'm in favour of National Parks. However I feel, in NSW, they are locked up. I used to take my family to a national park in the Myal Lakes area many times. It was called One Horse Bay. We would stay for a week or two and leave the place better or as we found it. it's now locked up. A prohibited area. You can't even go ashore by boat or into the bay. I did foot it in last year, approaching along the edge and it was appalling. Lantana and weeds everywhere. My experience over the last twenty years is…

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    1. Henk van Leeuwen

      author, philosopher, greenie

      In reply to Clive Bond

      Great article and very true. The lock-up argument is a ruse for private exploitation. I have visited National Parks for 43 years and have found that if access is restricted by bollards etc. there is usually a very good reason. Many 4WD drivers think it is their right to drive anywhere they like, such as along fragile foreshore ecosystems. I short walk from their vehicle seems to be too much to ask. Too often I have seen barriers knocked over and large rocks aimed at preventing this sort of vandalism pushed out of the way. Clive Bond may leave it better then he found it, but unfortunately many don't, causing much damage; not to mention their litter, etc...

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    2. Clive Bond

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Henk van Leeuwen

      Henkel, I understand your argue net. . However I feel it would be better to educate and where necessary prosecute offenders rather than banning all. Most fire trails are now blocked. Fire trails were put there for a reason. Many are now overgrown and can't be used in event of fire. Better to allow people with 4wd to use them and keep them open...educate not ban. Better to have rangers out educating and doing a bit more work getting rid of weeds.

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    3. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Henk van Leeuwen

      I agree the Queensland government is abusing the term 'locking up' here but as Clive points out many parks are now poorly managed through unsound exclusionist policy and worse off for it. Banning recreations in these areas because of a minority who litter or abuse sound rules is not fair for the majority who seek to utilise these areas sustainably. These people also contribute to the funds required to keep it managed well.

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    4. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Henk van Leeuwen

      I wouldn't call it as ruse so much as using an issue some people have as a cover for commercial exploitation. Rangers, field staff, management cost money. Money that's been cut out of parks over many, many years. Its been a long held view of politicians (of all stripes) that parks should 'pay their way'. So what gives if you don't have the proximity to population and infrastructure to generate revenue (and voters). Often the only option left is to restrict access to a point where the cost to maintain is as minimal as possible. People then stop using parks - particularly the more remote, regional ones, with poor facilities, access, etc. People also value these areas less as they have little use for them and avoid them. It is a great way to soften folks up for the loggers and heck knows what else is coming. You have to consider this scenario vs some better resourced management and better / broader access.

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    5. Clive Bond

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Yes, I agree it's a costly business. Why not then 'employ the public. Reopen fire trails. Educate drivers. Allow families to travel along trails and report back problems. Engage the public to look after their parks. I used to backpack into wild areas. I also 4wd drove into very wild regions along old fire trails. Those same trails are now blocked and overgrown. Get the public onside by education and allowing them to help manage the parks and enjoy the experience instead of having a privileged elite banning use. I used to camp in an area locally known as "racecourse". I revisited that region a few years back after an absence of twenty years. It was mostly closed to 4wd and I was horrified at the damage done by wild pigs. Allow access and educate and empower the public to look after their parks.

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    6. Marc Hockings

      Professor of Environmental Management at University of Queensland

      In reply to John Foley

      We agree that park management is increasingly underfunded, and as a result, many of our parks lack the sound management they need. But the course of action being taken now in the examples we discuss is not to invest in managing our parks better – it is instead to use them for private industries, such as cattle grazing and timber extraction. Such actions increase the environmental management burden on park, and potentially (in our experience at least) reduce free access by the public.

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    7. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Marc Hockings

      Thats the pity of it ... private exploitation could increase the burden to management, increase the cost, drive away the public. Create more 'need' for private exploitation. Of course, whats the bet that the true cost won't be passed onto private sector! I'm in agreement with Clive ... its about educating and empowering the public. Hows that's done, there are many ideas. But looking at whats being proposed (and that conservative governments look like they are in for at least a few terms), I'm leaning towards solutions that get more people out into parks, get them involved, give them as sense of ownership and place. Some of most vulnerable parks are out of the way, have few if any visitors. They are mainly symbolic to a small number of urban conservation minded people. That isn't going to change anytime soon. I suspect we need boots on the ground, not another blind spot where the logging trucks won't be noticed.

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  3. robert roeder
    robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    It seems like one side of politics will not be satisfied until every tree is cut down every water course is polluted every mineral is exploited and native wildlife is displaced to make way for commercial grazing. What a sad country we have become, no thought of legacy for our children just the mantra of use abuse exploit. Now in NSW a visit to a national park exposes you to being shot by some weekend rambo with a gun.
    The current policy in NSW is for hard tourist sites which confine access, it caters…

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to robert roeder

      Robert,

      There are only a small % of NP's in NSW being opened up to hunting. Hunting is also conducted in specific organised time slots to target feral removal in the main in other parks.

      Please keep things in perspective.

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    2. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to robert roeder

      Hunting of introduced pests is an aid to preserving the native wildlife so your point isn't valid against mine. My farther has been working with the state government in SA conducting eradication shoots in national parks for years with many great results. This is why the government keep utilising this method of feral removal.

      Don't post some link from a greenie website about hunting in np's I have heard their rubbish before and I am not interested.

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  4. Shaun Molloy

    Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

    Once, while explaining the ecological value of a patch of woodland on a private property, a farmer replied "But what's the use of it if I'm not here to enjoy it?". I was flabbergasted at this response. Here was this gorgeous piece of bushland in a landscape nearly totally cleared and it's custodian could see no value in it beyond his own enjoyment. So far the comments on this really well written article reflect the view of the farmer: i.e. what is the use of a national park if I'm not able to enjoy it?

    I would put to the reader that the biodiversity of this country faces numerous, dire threats and that our national parks have the capacity to act as arks for the conservation and preservation of the flora and fauna of this unique and wonderful continent. As such, maybe we should begin to look at our national parks as more than just a recreational opportunity and more as places where much of the nature and identity of our nation is held in trust.

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    1. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      So i gather you get no enjoyment of a patch of woodland because of its biological values? Who is to say the farmer will not come to see these things over time? Plenty of other people have. Life, ecology, its a journey. Its got start somewhere. Lucky for me i have got some very 'un-green' friends. I can see a lot of potential out there, there just needs to be a lot of engagement. Person to person. People aren't as far apart as the politicians and fanatics would have us believe. Its a pity…

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    2. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to John Foley

      John, I never said any such thing. I merely alluded to the dangers of seeing our national parks primarily, and often soley from a recreational perspective and in so doing overlooking the greater conservational value.

      As to the farmer in question he illegally bulldozed the last 100ha block of bush within a whole subcatchment in a biodiverse landscape that was left by his farther who had originally cleared the land. He did thisso that he could get a bit more crop. It was his response to financial hardship in a country where farmers are expected to be the untrained and uncompensated custodians of much of this country's biodiversity.

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    3. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Ok, I had no idea you were relating to a farmer clearing land. Not exactly obvious given the topic. Agree that biodiversity on private land deserves some form of compensation for lost productivity.

      Sure there is a danger in seeing national parks as a playground. There is also a danger going too far in the other direction. Conservation is a long term thing. How do conservationists generate the most long term support? How do you get information out to the widest possible audience? Look at out first national park ... nothing about nature conservation. That has obviously changed. Things change, people change. Yesterdays recreation turned into today's conservation.

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  5. Henk van Leeuwen

    author, philosopher, greenie

    I agree that the primary purpose for National Parks is the protection of ever-diminishing ecosystems and biodiversity. That is why passive recreation is the most appropriate 'use' of them. 20, 30,40 years ago bushwalking was one the most popular means of appreciating these magnificent places. Now, few people want to walk and expect to be able to drive to every little corner of the bush. Trail bikes and 4WDs have taken over. These do not tend to keep the tracks clear, but rather degrade them by causing…

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    1. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to Henk van Leeuwen

      I agree with much of what you say Hank. Passive recreation in NPs is certainly an important way getting people in touch with their country. I would disagree on it being the most important thing in many, but not all, cases. Sadly, as you wisely pointed out, passive is pretty passe to most Australians. Getting them out of their 4wds and onto their feet may be a bit of a problem.

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  6. Geoff Anderson

    Brain Surgeon

    Most National Parks in Quensland have had "prior use". Mainly logging, some sand mining or gold mining. "Prior use" is the broad term but the main focus at the moment is former grazing land. The drought is giving the LNP an excuse to start unravelling the protection that National Parks should provide, at least in their eyes. Of course it should not provide an excuse at all. Indeed one of the reasons the drought is so severe is that the Climate is changing. National Parks are stressed just like the…

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  7. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    I would agree that there needs to be more national parks, because they are about the only thing of real value left in Australia.

    We are a country without culture, we manufacture very little, our politics have become a shambles, our families are a feminist shambles, and our cities are congested overcommercialised environmental eyesores.

    What is left of our natural environment is now the only thing special about this country.

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  8. Mark Poynter

    Forester

    Sadly, this article, like many others on the topic of national parks on The Conversation, reads like a disaffected group of academics pushing a personal political agenda rather than an objective evaluation of the situation based on science or factual analysis.

    By focussing only on National Parks it also neglects to outline the broader situation with biodiversity conservation and implies that NPs are 'under attack' across Australia when really the discussion should be primarily about QLD and to…

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    1. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Sorry Mark, it seems that I forgot that we have too much national park, how much wildlife enjoy the benifits of logging and mining and how spreading dieback and weeds and shooting is good for our biodiversity. Did see the 4 corners special on hunting in national parks, their pictured a much different and less responsible picture of implementation than you. Must be because they're really just disaffected academics at heart.

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    2. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Shaun ... did you notice the background, the potential conflicts of interest of all (bar some of the hunters) were mentioned on 4 corners? No? Neither did I. Do you have anything to say of the figures Mark mentions? Got to be careful when wandering from science to politics. The shooting thing - a draft, of which we have been drip fed bits and pieces. Details ... who honestly knows. What we do have is a truck load of rubbish flying about on the issue. Responding in the way you have, is seriously selling yourself short as a PhD candidate.

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    3. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to John Foley

      John, I hadn't addressed the figure because the figures are inherently misleading. If we are talking about conservation the question of conservation estate vs productive forest irrelevant. The managment questions become focussed on the extent, quality and type of habitat available within the context of a greater landscape matrix. To address all these points fully, within the context of this forum, would be both tiresome and fruitless. There also exists a great deal of scientific literature on the problems arising from hunting on conservation estate. I feel no need to cite or debate this literature for the same reason.

      As to selling myself short. I'm quite happy to let my body of work speak for itself without resorting to snide and personal comments.

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    4. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Shaun

      You are unwittingly adding to my suspicions of a political agenda amongst conservation biologists determined to expand the national parks estate irrespective of broader social, economic and environmental considerations.

      Your dismissal of my point about the fact that biodiversity is conserved in large areas of other public land tenures worries me because you don't seem to understand that State forest is far more than just 'productive forest'. This is a fundamental point that cannot be…

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    5. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Maybe we are both confirming each others opinions Mark.

      As I said before, "The managment questions become focussed on the extent, quality and type of habitat available within the context of a greater landscape matrix. ". Never for a moment or a state, imply, infer or contemplate that "PROPERLY MANAGED" State forest has no conservation value. Forgive the yelling but I work in WA where overharvesting and clear felling are rampant. However to consider that it has the state forest has, for most species, an equivalent conservation value denies both common sense a huge body of peer reviewed literature.

      As to shooters in NPs, dismissing the findings of the literature and the opinions of rangers, park managers and people living with the consequences of this policy because of the percieved "Green-Left" ilk of the producers would be same as me ignoring your opinions simply by labelling you "Brown-Right". Labelling denies respect, impedes communication and facillitates conflict.

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    6. John Clayton

      Professional

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      "...I would like to see our academics examine the hard proposals for uses of NPs in QLD and NSW and discuss their significance based on their scale and extent, rather than implying that we are on the cusp of some sort of environmental catastrophe without any real supporting evidence."

      There have been numerous scientific studies undertaken on this Mark. The evidence is there and the findings show that the activities proposed by the Qld and NSW governments will severely damage the integrity of NPs…

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    7. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      So 4 corners shove a camera in the face of some park ranger who has a problem with hunting in their park and that makes the rangers view gospel and representative of science?

      Some rangers advocate controlled, effective eradication through hunting in np's because they see the results of regrowth on low lying vegetation etc.

      Just becuase you have a political agenda against hunting doesn't mean all forms of hunting need to be banned they just need to be managed well.

      Are you one of those people who don't like management and prefer to 'lock up' everything based on personal idealisms?

      Sure seems that way?

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    8. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to John Clayton

      Ha Ha....a large % of members within the shooters and fishers party the government hire, are the same professional pest controllers you speak of.

      They hunt both professionally and recreationally as do many fishers.

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    9. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to John Clayton

      John

      You said: "The evidence is there and the findings show that the activities proposed by the Qld and NSW governments will severely damage the integrity of NPs and adversely affect native wildlife"

      I don't see how the evidence is there that proposals to use NPs in NSW and QLD are damaging, if we don't even know yet what the details of these proposals are.

      You said: "If state govts were serious about pest control in NPs, they'd be spending less time doing deals with the Shooters and Fishers…

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    10. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Yes, you can let a vast body of work as yet referenced speak for itself. For some reason I know that there is a lot of good work having been done on ecosystem conservation, so you can spare me that. As for the great body of research on the problems arising from hunting on conservation estates, well in NSW i find that bemusing. You can't hunt on these estates legally, unless you are a professional hunter. As for the existing research - it has been done by people who are as gifted as they are underfunded. And that's hardly unusual is it. Its just often very inconvenient.

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    11. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      That's definitely not me saying that!!! Any bloke that zeros in on helicopters loses my interest. Besides the lack of a 'silver bullet in vertebrate pest control, the suitability, the economics of it - high cost techniques are (well, should be) directed to where the problem is the greatest. That's cost effective, less $ per feral. Sending in shooters to harass and kill animals like pigs after this (or trapping, baiting) may keep numbers low enough longer and allow resources to be deployed elsewhere to areas with more pressing problems. That's the theory, we won't know until its been tried. Like yo said, better than doing nothing. Which might be why there is so much effort in playing the man and not the ball.

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    12. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to John Foley

      Oh silly me, I didn't realise that the studies on the impacts of hunting undertaken in the US, Canada, Africa and Europe don't apply to NSW, or that the studies undertaken by NSW parks staff that "strongly indicate" that hunters are seeding conservation reserves with deer and pigs (as they have been caught doing throughout the country).

      Should also point out that professional shooters have, as a group come out very strongly against the amatuers citing poor gun discipline and safety, an emphasis on trophy animals and cruelty as their main reasons.

      My issue with shooters is that they have access to 97% of the country. Why then is it so important that they have access to the other 3%. Especially given that feral densities are generally higher outside of NPs. Could it be that private land owners are very hesitant to allow these people onto their land; largely, for the reasons cited.

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    13. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Shaun

      Now you're really stretching it .... are you really suggesting that hunters are somehow capturing does and piglets and releasing them into remote country to expand their range for better hunting opportunities?? I don't think so ...... these ferals don't need human help to spread for a start.

      Your cooment that hunters have access to 97% of the country just isn't true unless you're advocating trespass onto private or leasehold land. The main point is that NPs if they are to best serve their purpose are the areas that most need feral animal control.

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    14. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, I don't need to stretch anything. In WA and SA the transport of pigs and goats has been common place, prosecutions have taken place and records are numerous. In NSW government scientists have presented dna and spatial modelling evidence that deer seeding is commonplace (i assume with bought animals) at both conferences and to a government that was busliy buying votes. Conservation officers around the country are, sadly, all too familiar with this practice.

      As to the 97%, you might actually want to read what was said.

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    15. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Are those studies from OS about the impacts of hunting on feral animals, or hunting as part of a broader pest control program? BTW are you taking talking points from somewhere else? For somebody who claims to be a PhD student, i'm feeling a little scientifically underwhelmed. Personally, I'd like data from a trail rather than relying on the odd charge, anecdotes and groups with conflicts of interest. I'd prefer it was given a genuine go, and if it does not work, can it for good. Otherwise i can…

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    16. Shaun Molloy

      Ecologist at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to John Foley

      Here we go again John. First you try to nail down on an irrelevant point and then the snide and personal attack.

      The impacts of hunting are not confined to feral species nor are problems with feral species limited to Australia. The trap of the irrelevant detail is an old and tiresome one. For example, the person who denies anthropogenic global warming because the last week’s weather forecast was wrong. Of course you could take matters further and ask “what is his name and address?”. Nor will…

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    17. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Shaun. Been there, done that. I started off, and possibly am still, not liking the 4WD / shooters types, having any say in parks, or bush land areas full stop. But this is what I've come to realise over the years. You can work with people, or against 'them'. To a point. So far in my neck of the woods we've done the 'work against them'. That sort of worked. And it sort of backfired. The course of politics has put a fair amount of emotion in the issue, the 'others' now have some political muscle…

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    18. Shelby Gull Laird
      Shelby Gull Laird is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Lecturer, School of Environmental Sciences at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      I think part of the issue folks have with hunting in Australia is simply the manner in which it is conducted (or perceived to be conducted). I've not lived here long enough to get my head around all the issues so please bear with me. In the state I'm from in the US the hunting licenses sold contribute greatly to the overall funding provided for conservation, threatened species research and education. These licenses also require a 10 hour hunting safety course and can continue with ongoing training…

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    19. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Shelby Gull Laird

      You make perfect sense Shelby. What we seem to have in this discussion is an assertion by some that hunters can play no role in pest management (and hunting cannot be used as an incentive to participate in management more broadly) in this. And so we have a situation where shooters and fishers are calling the shots (no pun intended) and attracting the funding.

      It’s a pity the NPWS wasn't able to build on the local area initiatives (which often involved an element of hunting), and it’s a pity that…

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    20. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Shelby Gull Laird

      Shelby

      I'm not a hunter myself, but have had some dealings with the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (which has some 35,000 members as I understand it) and their professionalism, including their wetland conservation work.

      As you say, hunters and conservationists have common interests and should have a mutually beneficial partnership, and to some extent this happens in rural Australia already, .... and the use of accredited hunters for feral pest control in national parks is an extension…

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  9. Peter Rutherford

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    If the article had been addressed the benefits/issues of active verses asleep at the wheel management, it may have actually added something to the Australian biodiversity conservation debate. I believe how parks are managed is the fundamental issue, not whether they are "locked up" or not. There are examples of local extinctions of some species, despite their habitat being "protected" in parks and reserves. In other regions, the population of these same species are increasing on private property and even in state forests open to loggin & shootin. Changing land tenure doesn't guarantee the outcome some experts predict.

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  10. Matthew John Bailey

    Ecologist

    Within the NSW Game Council published protocols I viewed last year there is limits placed on the quantities of deer and females deer that can be taken. No legitimate feral control program would limit the quantities of female pest species that can be taken yet it is a regulation for their licenced hunters within NSW Game Council literature.

    One of the causal factors in the disharmony re 'conservation' hunting in NP's is that the decisions were made at a politic level without consultation with the…

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    1. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Matthew John Bailey

      It’s a shame that somebody with your outlook did not construct a conservation hunting! Like you said, this is something that’s carried out at a political level. This is a program that should have been drawn up by folks such as ecologists and ag scientists in consultation with relevant stakeholders. But …

      As for the game council R / G licensing, from what I’ve seen of it, I would not say its rigorous. Open book tests. The only features of the system that attempt to screen out ‘undesirables…

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