Environmentalists have praised the premier’s decision to establish a new national park in the region however they have expressed concern about the government’s commitment to koala conservation.
The new national park is a 3680 hectare conservation area in the southern highlands, about 25 kilometres northwest of Bowral linking Wollondilly and Bangadilly national parks.
The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) president Anne Dickson has cautiously welcomed the announcement but warned that policies must change in order to reverse recent wind-backs in environmental protection.
“We welcome the addition of land into the reserve network and we strongly welcome government recognition that the best way to protect koala habitat is to include it in national parks,” Ms Dickson said.
“This area provides for important connectivity so the reservation is good, but it could have gone further and secured the entire corridor in perpetuity.
“It is an unfortunate fact that the rate of reserve creation has fallen dramatically under Ms Berejiklian, Mr Baird and Mr O’Farrell—by over 90 per cent to just 10,675 hectares per year—at the same time as threats to native vegetation have risen sharply due to policy decisions. We need to do much better.
“NPA has proposed several national parks to protect koala habitat, and the government should urgently implement these in order to protect known koala habitat and populations from logging.
“If these announcements are to do more than just slow the loss of wildlife in our beautiful state they must be accompanied by tighter land clearing laws, an end to native forest logging on public land and more ambition to protect nature in the face of urban development.”
Wollondilly Liberal candidate Nathaniel Smith praised the announcement of the new national park along with a funding boost of $150 million for the state’s national parks estate.
“A new national park for our region is an extraordinary achievement,” Nathaniel said.
“This new protected green corridor will have a profound impact on the state’s koala population and is delivered with a raft of improvements to existing national parks.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new park was created by combining the recently purchased Tugalong Station with Wollondilly and Bangadilly national parks.
“This new national park will ensure that a vital koala wilderness area south of Sydney is preserved,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Like all national parks, it will be open to the public so they can explore the wilderness country.”