National Parks are for protection not development – new national poll

National Parks Australia Council

Media Release – 22 Feb 2022

National Parks are for protection not development – new national poll

Australia is country full of national park lovers, who favour nature protection over development.

New national polling confirms that the vast majority of Australians do not want to see prime protected areas like National Parks compromised by commercial or large-scale development. Research undertaken by National Parks Australia Council, a coalition of state-based conservation groups, shows just how protective Australians are of our national parks and reserves.

Of the 1,122 Australians we surveyed, the results were unequivocal, with 91% agreeing national parks and conservation areas are critical to protect nature from resource extraction (including logging and mining), and 78% of saying they did not support any development in parks and protected areas at all. There was support for small scale projects that help people enjoy nature such as public toilets, visitor centres, and interpretation areas.

The poll was commissioned in response to the increasing trend of Federal and State governments proactively spruiking and funding development and commercial interests over nature protection in national parks.

Recent disputes over Kosciuszko National Park Special Development Precincts, the Ben Boyd National Park Light to Light Walk in NSW, Lake Malbena in Tasmania, Warburton/Yarra Ranges National Park Bike Track in Victoria, Australian Walking Company’s private, luxury accommodation in Flinders Chase National Park, South Australia, and the Wangetti trail in Queensland, which is under development, have raised community concern that Federal and State governments are undermining the integrity of national parks.

“We have seen numerous examples over the years, and they just keep coming, a seemingly insatiable push to inappropriately develop even for our prime protected natural places like national parks.” said National Parks Australia Council President, Dr Bruce McGregor.

“What becomes clear is that there is a disconnect between public and political priorities. People don’t support commercialisation or large-scale development of parks, but that’s where governments keep putting their money and effort,” said Dr Bruce McGregor.

When Australians were asked why national parks and conservation areas were important to them, protection of nature, saving threatened species, and quiet enjoyment of nature topped the list.

The survey also revealed that the perceived city/country divide over nature protection isn’t quite as divisive as portrayed. Regional Australians were five percentage points more likely than capital city residents to vote for their local member of parliament if they actively prioritised or advocated national parks, demonstrating “that there is pretty much a national consensus on this, and it doesn’t matter whether you live in the country or city.” said Dr Bruce McGregor.

“We need our politicians to match their actions with their communities’ attitudes and rule out inappropriate development, in favor of a clearly articulated protection vision for national parks and protected areas” said National Parks Australia Council President, Dr Bruce McGregor.

The research was released by the National Parks Australia Council (NPAC), a national coalition of state based national parks associations and community conservation organisations from across Australia. And was conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard.

Report is here https://vnpa.org.au/publications/polling-2022/

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