Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

New Plan removes protection from Kakadu's Wilderness

“The recently released fifth plan of management for Kakadu National Park has removed a protection zone from a 475,000 hectare wilderness over Kakadu's ‘Stone Country'”, said Mr Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The new plan of management removes all the previous zoning controls, including those over the park's extensive wilderness area. The plan provides no explanation for these changes,” Mr Muir said.

“Kakadu's new plan of management does not prevent development of sensitive park areas.  Without a planning map that regulates park use, the eyes could be cut out of Kakadu. Its beauty spots and sensitive areas could be developed. For example, the slopes around Kakadu's Stone Country escarpment could be targeted for development through the yet to be released tourism plan for the park.,” said Mr Muir.

“Under the new plan, development control is based on ‘trust us management' as the limits to development have been removed,” he said.

“Further commercial tourism in the park would be almost as damaging as more mining.  Concentrations of people mean sewage effluent, garbage, roads, clearing, and infrastructure for electricity and telephones, Mr Muir said.

“The Kakadu wilderness zone was established by the Kakadu Board of Management in 1986.  It was a good idea to set aside a third of Kakadu National Park in a wilderness zone then. Nothing has changed, except that visitor pressures on the park have increased over the last twenty years.

“The many values of beautiful Kakadu National Park inspire a sense of wonder and the park's Stone Country represents a bastion for nature.  Elsewhere it is in retreat, but wilderness precludes all forms of development and sets these areas aside for nature”, he said.

“Wilderness protection in Federally managed parks should be greatly expanded to curb increasing development pressures that come with increase park use and to protect the natural condition of these rare areas. Minister Turnbull should establish a Wilderness Unit in his Department of Environment and Water to ensure the large intact areas inside our national parks remain that way and are properly managed throughout Australia,” Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk)