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National parks

Analysis and Comment (27)

Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest – but we need to make sure parks are actually protecting wildlife from threats. Rita Willaert/Flickr

We have more parks than ever, so why is wildlife still vanishing?

While we can never know for sure, an extraordinary number of animals and plants are threatened with extinction — up to a third of all mammals and over a tenth of all birds. And the problem is getting worse…
Australia’s Commonwealth marine parks were designed to protect marine life, including important foraging areas for sea birds.

Marine park review looks set to repeat past mistakes

In June 2012 the Labor government announced the “world’s largest” system of marine parks, adding 2.3 million square kilometres and taking the overall size of Australia’s Commonwealth marine reserves to…
Save Albert Park unsuccessfully campaigned to relocate the Grand Prix to a permanent track. AAP/David Crosling

Does the Australian Grand Prix belong in a public park?

From Thursday through Sunday this week the Australian Grand Prix will take over Melbourne’s Albert Park, bringing with it the glamour of fast cars, grid girls and Formula One drivers Raikkonen, Alonso…
Lake Judd, in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park. JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons

Abbott’s half right: our national parks are good but not perfect

Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week told a timber industry dinner that he doesn’t think national parks should be a growth industry: “We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up…
One reason why: Leadbeater’s Possum will become extinct unless further action is taken to protect their Mountain Ash habitat. Flcirk/Greens MPs

Why Victoria needs a Giant Forest National Park

The Central Highlands of Victoria are home to the world’s tallest flowering plants, the Mountain Ash, and one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Leadbeater’s Possum. Both are threatened by ongoing…
Diversity is the key. Agricultural Research Service

Protect a sixth of the land, save two thirds of species

The scene was typical for an international gathering of governments: bureaucrats, sat behind nameplates and speaking through interpreters. But the less than typical result of the votes cast at this 1992…
Lindisfarne Castle, Northumbria - one of many beautiful places in the “desolate” North East. Owen Humphreys/PA

Neither fracking nor anything else should divide us further

The recent comments from former government energy policy advisor David Howell, Lord Howell of Guildford, on the suitability of different parts of England for fracking amply demonstrate how off-the-cuff…
Calling something protected isn’t enough to protect it. AAP Image/Australian Institute for Marine Science

Governments are not protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Announcements last week of the escalating damage to the Great Barrier Reef confirm Australia’s most famous and intensely managed Marine Protected Area has not been properly protected. UNESCO’s recent review…
Buffalo might be introduced to Kakadu, but maybe we need to embrace the change. Flickr/George Olcott

National parks need to embrace global change

On land and in the seas our world now resembles a series of badly run zoos, set in an even more badly run botanic garden. The badly run zoos, our global set of national parks, are often seen as the jewels…
Moves to increase protection of national parks have been voted down. Flickr/Marc Dalmulder

Why would the ALP vote against stronger environmental protection?

This week Greens Senator Larissa Waters proposed significant amendments to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Some sought to better protect farmers and water resources from…
With the number of visitors Australia’s national parks get every year, can we really call them locked up? Flickr/The 0bserver

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…
National parks make up a lot of our landmass, but change is needed if they’re to protect it. Flickr/Paolo Rosa

Making national parks truly national

Australia boasts over 500 national parks covering 28 million hectares of land, or about 3.6% of Australia. You could be forgiven for thinking we’re doing well in the biodiversity-conservation game. But…
We shouldn’t assume hunting, logging or grazing will damage areas like Guy Fawkes River National Park. We also shouldn’t assume they won’t. Ian Sanderson

Stopping hunting, logging and grazing won’t save national parks

Countries create national parks to protect areas of biological, physical, cultural and spiritual significance. In Australia, we generally prefer national parks to be free from activities such as hunting…
We have to get smarter about the way we manage Australia’s national parks. Nic Prins

Our national parks must be more than playgrounds or paddocks

It’s make or break time for Australia’s national parks. National parks on land and in the ocean are dying a death of a thousand cuts, in the form of bullets, hooks, hotels, logging concessions and grazing…
Our national parks are full of forests - we could be claiming carbon credits for managing them better. Tatiana Gerus

Which of our forests should be managed for carbon?

The Australian Government has recently committed to a second round of the Kyoto Protocol to run from 2013-2020. In doing so, Australia is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5…
An early dry season fire in Kakadu National Park – are these fires burning up our mammals? Clay Trauernicht

Scientists and national park managers are failing northern Australia’s vanishing mammals

Conservationists should take heart that Australia is finally waking up to the biodiversity crisis in Australia’s north. It is an urgent problem: right now, a diverse assortment of our small mammals – bandicoots…
National parks' role as a refuge from direct human intervention will only become more important in future. dracopylla/Flickr

Biodiversity crisis demands bolder thinking than bagging national parks

Tim Flannery’s recent Quarterly Essay, After the Future, questions whether Australian national parks will become “marsupial ghost towns” despite the tens of millions of dollars governments spend on them…
It’s easy to find examples of good development in national parks - Cradle Mountain Lodge, for example - and examples of where it hasn’t worked. Michael Dawes

Is nature-based tourism development really what our national parks need?

You’d be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t love national parks, either as visitors or as reasonably-minded bystanders. But can those parks be loved to death? And, if so, who should step in to help…
Illegal hunting is a severe threat to wildlife in many protected areas. Shown is the skull of a young forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) killed in southern Gabon. Ralph Buij

Are nature reserves working? Take a look outside

You couldn’t have witnessed the recent massacre of elephants at Bouba N’Djida National Park and not be worried about the future of biodiversity. The park, in northern Cameroon, is supposed to be a refuge…
Our parks are an incredible asset, and if we ran them more like a business we would see that. AAP/Patrick Horton

Thinking corporately: getting national parks on national balance sheets

National parks are among Australia and New Zealand’s most precious assets. But we don’t account for them properly, so they’re struggling. It’s time for a rethink. The assets managed by the parks agencies…
Arise marsupial: the NSW town of Campbelltown could be the place to claw back Big Koala status from this one at Dadswell Bridge, Victoria. Flickr/pixelhut

High time for NSW to have a Big Koala debate

One of Campbelltown Council’s councillors, facing re-election in the upcoming elections, recently suggested that the city should construct a “Big Koala” (BK) in the style of other “big local features…
National parks: the traditional way, but is it the best? flickr

Are national parks the best way to conserve nature?

Many plants and animals will become extinct in this century – millions of years of evolutionary experimentation will be abruptly terminated. This raises profound philosophical dilemmas: which species should…
We can’t run away from it: we need food, and we need biodiversity. buiversonian

A global juggling act: feeding the world, saving species

Our planet is on the precipice of a sixth mass extinction event. But unlike the five previous mass extinctions, this one is man-made: a global biodiversity crisis in which species are disappearing three…

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