Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Resorts in national parks isn't design with nature

“The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) Action Plan released today outlines how the tourist industry plans to exploit national parks, despite its stated concern for climate change,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The TTF Action Plan is a comprehensive strategy for the tourist industry to re-write park management for its own benefit,” Mr Muir said.

“TTF call for a review of legislative and regulatory barriers to tourism in national parks is very worrying. They might as well say “let us rewrite national park legislation so that we can exploit the last remaining protected wilderness areas””, said Mr Muir.

“The elimination of wilderness will only benefit the tourist industry. A multitude of motor vehicles, resorts and park facilities will simply build a barrier between the visitor and the wilderness”, Mr Muir said.

“Building resorts in national parks and developing wilderness can never be design with nature. It is the best way to ensure that our most scenic and environmentally sensitive areas are modified by clearing, buildings, roads, electricity power poles and sewage waste”, he said.

Visitor accommodation should be located off park in the adjoining settlements and rural hamlets where they can benefit the local community, as illustrated by the townships of Jindabyne and Coonabarabran in NSW”, said Mr Muir.

“The devil is always in the detail with park planning. For example, the low-scale adaptive re-use of certain outback homesteads may be appropriate and add value and richness to a park visit, but it would be quite another thing to commercialise the huts of the High Country. I suspect the latter could be cause a revolution”, he said.

“NSW parks received 23 million visits in 2005, compared with just over a million a year for the Northern Territory parks. The obvious conclusion is that park visitation thrives without heavy promotion, or on-park visitor accommodation, but with all tourism strictly controlled through park plans of management. Park visitation at Kakadu National Park in decline, despite the heavy publicity and the recent abolition of its wilderness protection,” Mr Muir said.

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