In a spectacular New Year’s gift to the environment, Premier Brumby announced the protection of 95,000 hectares of river red gum wetlands in Victoria including four new National Parks along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers in northern Victoria.
The commitment by the Victorian government is one of the most significant conservation decisions in the state’s history and follows years of work by The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth and the Victorian National Parks Association.
The commitment by the Victorian government to protect 95,000 hectares of river red gum wetlands in Victoria is one of the most significant conservation decisions in the state’s history.
Key aspects of the decision include;
The declaration of four new National Parks and extensions to the Murray-Sunset and Terrick-Terrick National Parks, totaling over 95,000 hectares;
1. The new Barmah National Park will be the first in Victoria to be jointly managed with traditional owners, the Yorta Yorta people;
2. Logging will be reduced by around 70% and will cease in the new National parks;
3. Cattle grazing will be cease in the new National Parks.
The decision is based on strong scientific evidence and extensive community consultation by the Victorian Environment Assessment Commission (VEAC), who recommended the urgent need for red gum protection after studies revealed that 75% of river red gums are stressed, dead or dying.
Protecting red gum wetlands;
1. Reduces climate change – Red gum forests are huge carbon stores and protecting them from logging means less CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Red gum national parks will also improve wildlife habitat, giving them a better chance of adapting to climate change.
2. Protects habitat for threatened wildlife - Almost 300 threatened and endangered plants and animals including the Murray Cod, Squirrel Glider and Barking Owl depend on red gum forests. Migratory birds such as the Japanese Snipe and Spine-tailed Swift migrate all the way from north Asia and every year millions of waterbirds from around the world use the red gum wetlands as breeding sites;
3. Improves the health of the Murray – Protecting red gum wetlands gives relief to the stressed Murray Darling system and improves water quality by acting as giant water filters.
The Wilderness Society will now work to protect Red Gum forests on the NSW side of the Murray and urges the NSW government to follow the excellent example set by Victorian Premier John Brumby in protecting red gum forests and wetlands.
Click here to listen to the interview with Jess Abrahams from The Wilderness Society talk about the good news.
For more information please visit The Wilderness Society's website at http://www.wilderness.org.au/