Environment Minister Matt Kean has pledged to add 400,000 hectares of wildlife habitat to national parks by 2022, doubling the area he promised to protect last August.
Mr Kean announced the new target during his keynote address at the Nature Conservation Council’s annual conference today.
“We heartily welcome Mr Kean’s vision, which is more ambitious than anything we have seen in NSW for a decade,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“The Liberal Party has a proud tradition of adding to the state’s conservation reserves, a tradition the party appeared to have forgotten in recent years.
“Liberal premiers added almost a million hectares to the national parks estate in the 1960s and ‘70s and almost 400,000 hectares in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but has added comparatively little in recent years.
“If Mr Kean can deliver on today’s pledge, it will rank among the most significant contributions to the conservation reserve system by a Coalition government.”
Mr Gambian said there were still millions of hectares of wildlife habitat in NSW that urgently required protection in the national parks system, including koala forests along the east coast and woodlands west of the range.
“Thousands of hectares of forests are endangered right now by mining, logging and land clearing,” Mr Gambian said.
“The Pilliga forest in the state’s northwest and the Gardens of Stone near Lithgow are areas of outstanding conservation value threatened by gas and coal projects.
“These areas should be out of bounds, especially for fossil fuel projects that are feeding climate change and threatening our livelihoods and lifestyles.
“While national parks are essential for the conservation of our unique plants and animals, we cannot guarantee their survival if private landholders do not play their part.
“That’s why protections such as the new koala SEPP must apply wherever quality koala habitat occurs - whether it is on public and private land - if we are to prevent the species’ extinction.”