Victoria must deliver on red gum parks election promise

\VictoriaProtect Murray River Red Gums -- please act today for the river, the climate and our wildlife! After a three year investigation, the Brumby government has received recommendations for a 170,000ha network of national parks lining the River Murray and its tributaries.

After a three year investigation, the Brumby government has received recommendations for a 170,000ha network of national parks lining the River Murray and its tributaries. This critical biolink between the mountains and the sea is currently logged and degraded by cattle grazing, limiting its ability to store carbon and harbour native flora and fauna. Protecting the river red gum corridor is a critical step in the challenge to bolster Australia's natural bushland against the threat of climate change.

The Brumby government are waiting to gauge the community response to these recommendations. Already there is a clamour of opposition from vested interest groups bent on continuing to log and graze our forests at the expense of saving the Murray. It is urgent that you write to the Premier today to voice your support for new red gum national parks.

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Media Release

Friday 25 July 2008


The Victorian Government must honour its key election promise to establish major new Red Gum national parks in the north of the State after an independent government advisory group today recommended their creation, leading environment groups said.

The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) today released its final report of a 3-year River Red Gums Forest Investigation, which recommends the creation of more than 100,000 hectares of new parks and reserves in public land from Lake Hume to the South Australian border, including the iconic Barmah forest and wetlands.

Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) Executive Director Matt Ruchel said the implementation of the new Red Gum parks was likely be the most significant nature conservation proposal in the Brumby Government’s current term.

The ALP commitment during the 2006 election was to “create new Red Gum National and Forest Parks if recommended by VEAC’’ (Page 9, Policy for the 2006 Victorian Election, Victoria’s National Parks & Biodiversity).

“Victorians now expect the promise to be fully and quickly implemented,’’ Mr Ruchel said. “After 12 months in office, new Red Gum national parks are the key test of Premier Brumby’s nature conservation credentials.

“After three years of independent investigation and extensive community consultation, the case for new parks is overwhelming and there are no excuses for delay in implementing VEAC’s recommendations and delivering on the election commitment’’.

While the environment groups were disappointed at the small reduction in total area of proposed parks from the draft report and still only 30 per cent of the Gunbower forest protected, they welcomed the bulk of the report’s recommendations.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Red Gum Campaign Coordinator Jonathan La Nauze said creating Victoria’s first jointly Indigenous managed national parks would be an act of true reconciliation.

“This is also the chance for John Brumby to become the Premier who finally recognised Indigenous Traditional Owners as equal partners in managing the land,” Mr La Nauze said. “It would bring Victoria’s park system up to world’s best practice.

The Wilderness Society’s (TWS) Campaigns Director Gavan McFadzean said the VEAC recommendations would help turn around Premier Brumby’s disappointing record so far on protecting the Murray.

“These are excellent recommendations by VEAC, environmentally responsible and scientifically based,’’ Mr McFadzean said. “VEAC should be congratulated for withstanding intense pressure from vested interest groups bent on continued logging and grazing, at the expense of saving the Murray and its Red Gum wetlands”.

Environment Victoria’s (EV) Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said the Red Gum forests and Murray wetlands were in desperate need of political leadership.

“The VEAC process has clearly argued the scientific and economic case for their protection and for the periodic flooding of wetlands,’’ Mr Wakeham said. “Now we need Premier Brumby to make good on the ALP’s election commitment to accept VEAC’s recommendations’’.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) Healthy Forests Campaigner Lindsay Hesketh said: “The Brumby Government must deliver VEAC’s recommendations to ensure the future economic prosperity of river communities by reviving the Murray River’s globally significant ecosystems’’.

For interview:
Matt Ruchel, VNPA, on 0418 357 813
Gavan McFadzean, TWS, on 0414 754 023
Jonathan La Nauze, FoE, on 0402 904 251
Mark Wakeham, EV, on 0439 700 501
Lindsay Hesketh, ACF, on 0418 655 551
Nick Roberts, VNPA, on 0429 945 429

Media contact: Daniel Clarke on 9341 8113 or 0407 771 072