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National Parks Association 

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NPAQ welcomes funding for the expansion and management of Queensland’s protected area estate

The National Parks Association of Queensland welcomes the release of the Queensland Budget and the investment in Queensland’s natural heritage.

Key areas receiving support include protecting koalas, addressing the impacts of climate change, protecting the Great Barrier Reef and expanding national parks.

Overall the operating budget for the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has increased by $23.5 million.

Whilst koalas have been singled out for conservation funding, other species will also benefit from the proposed funding. Grants for wildlife hospitals, licencing and inspections and development of wildlife management regulations will be made available.

Climate change is back on the agenda, with an additional $6.8 million proposed over four years. The additional funds are slated for use to facilitate the development of climate change strategy.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will also receive support to address recommendations from the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce. Given the recent impacts of coral bleaching, this comes as a timely investment.

Of great interest to NPAQ is the funding boost for Queensland’s National Parks. Following on from the recent growth in the protected area estate (three new national parks and six regional parks), Minister Miles announced funding of an additional $5 million to acquire more land. Management of protected areas will also receive funding, with $35.9 million being invested over four years to establish and manage these lands.

It is pleasing to see the announcement of 31 new park ranger roles over the next four years. This begins to redress the cuts to ranger numbers under the Newman-Nichols government. Support for park rangers is vital to the ongoing good management of Queensland’s national parks.

Similarly, the provision of support for an implementation team of 10 officers (by 2020) on Cape York Peninsula is big win for the region. This Cape York land tenure resolution program has the potential to deliver conservation, cultural and economic outcomes with the region in partnership with Traditional Owners. The move is also recognition of the vital role that Traditional Owners have in protecting Queensland’s natural and cultural heritage.

In a similar vein, an additional $2.2 million has been committed to advance the World Heritage Nominations for Cape York and Great Sandy Region in consultation with Traditional Owners.

The Queensland Budget reflects recent change in sentiment towards protected areas. By committing funds to the expansion and good management of national parks, the government send a strong signal regarding the importance of Queensland natural and cultural heritage. NPAQ looks forward to seeing the implementation of this budget, and the positive environmental outcomes that will be delivered.