Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Support grows for protecting Lithgow’s pagodas

Access the report from the Gardens of Stone site from 6pm Monday 8th April.

- - - - - -

A new plan to transition "unproductive" state forests beside Lithgow to a state conservation area was given support from an unlikely source today, Centennial Coal. Centennial controls three large underground coal mines in these forests. It’s now probable that Lithgow Council will eventually come on board and support the new visitor plan for the area, called Destination Pagoda. The plan will be launched in Lithgow tomorrow night.

“This new political alignment gives Premier Gladys Berejiklian a perfect opportunity to redefine her Government’s relationship toward nature conservation by creating a low-key version of Royal National Park that would benefit Lithgow,” Mr Muir said.

“With the absorption of the Office of Environment and Heritage into the Department of Premier and Cabinet behind it, Premier Berejiklian is in the driver’s seat to gain green credentials by creating a spectacular Gardens of Stone reserve. As will be explained tomorrow night, the new visitor plan makes the proposed reserve a win for Lithgow community, workers and the environment,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Rob Stokes, the new Minister for Planning is known to be sympathetic towards a Gardens of Stone reserve, and his Department holds millions of dollars in swamp compensation funds set aside for conservation management“, said Mr Muir. “Minister Stokes likes triple bottom line outcomes, and we’ve got a nice one for him,” he added.

“The Alliance of conservation groups* who developed Destination Pagoda are confident the new reserve will put Lithgow on the tourist map. The plan is to ensure the town becomes the gateway to the new reserve.

“The new reserve, which is not proposing full national park protection, allows for underground mining and also ensures proper management of the area’s outstanding natural and cultural values, including its internationally significant pagoda landforms,” he said.

“Katoomba is getting crowded, and the Gardens of Stone offers families unique bushland experiences,” he said. “If the new reserve can attract a small fraction of the 4 million visitors to Katoomba, then it will give Lithgow the tourism hit it needs.

The Alliance will tomorrow night release its visitor plan that does just that”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

*The Gardens of Stone Alliance consists of the Colong Foundation, Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Lithgow Environment Group.