The Palaszczuk Government is consulting on a draft Protected Area Strategy, giving the community about three weeks to read, consider and respond to the draft document by 24 February 2017.
Why has the Minister allowed so little time for the community to engage in discussion about this important issue?
A Protected Area Strategy deserves better consultation!
What is the draft strategy about?
We’re asking the public for their comments on how we can build and manage a diverse and effective protected area system in Queensland.
Our protected areas include our national parks and privately owned nature refuges, and are recognised for their diversity, flora and fauna, and wonderful scenery.
Our draft Protected Area Strategy proposes actions to expand and effectively manage Queensland’s protected area system, now and into the future.
The strategy outlines ways we might do this while conserving representative and resilient samples of Queensland’s biodiversity at the same time as moving towards our goal of having 17 per cent of the state’s total land area as protected areas.
Given the limited time for serious consultation, it looks like the Protected Area Strategy has been launched without serious intent, little fanfare and only a three week turn around!
The need for an expanded protected area of national parks was one of the central issues for planning of the SEQ region since the early 1990’s, but the draft SEQ Regional Plan sweeps aside the interstate comparisons that show the region poorly served with regional scale open space.
Open space in the Sydney region is about 49% while only 18% of south east Queensland is open space.
More than 60% of planned population growth in south east Queensland is south of the Brisbane River but this area has only 34% of the Region’s open space.
Unless the Protected Area Strategy deals with real problems it will be yet another meaningless Government document with more photos than ideas.
NPAQ welcomes the draft Strategy
AT least the National Parks Association Qld (NPAQ) seems to have had its finger on the pulse. President Michelle Prior is said to welcome the Government’s new strategy, saying:
Queensland is internationally renowned for its biodiversity and natural beauty, and in need of a clear strategy to deliver a world-class protected area network.
We welcome the foresight shown in developing a protected area strategy that encompasses the various tenures of conservation lands under the one umbrella.
National parks and other protected areas deliver Queenslanders many benefits from boosting our economy, providing vital ecosystem services, protecting our natural and cultural heritage and are central to our outdoor lifestyle.
However, there are many other community organisations who are stakeholders in the State’s protected areas.
The Queensland Conservation Council, Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation and Tourism Queensland come to mind.
The NPAQ has invited comment from the community, this is understood so that individual comments can be incorporated into the NPAQ submission. The offer of the NPAQ is commendable, but it is also a stop gap measure given the Ministers contracted timeframe for submission.
If the Minister is serious he should stop the Toondah PDA
In Redlands, the Toondah Priority Development Area (PDA) can only proceed if significant areas of the existing Moreton Bay Marine Park are revoked to allow a developer to dredge and destroy internationally significant wetlands.
It is obvious that the agencies planning for the PDA paid scant attention to the Moreton Bay Marine Park designation.
If the Minister is genuinely concerned about Protected Areas he would be ensuring that the Moreton Bay Marine Park is protected from ill-considered plans for urban development through dredging and land reclamation.
Proper consultation requires more time
Most community organisations meet monthly. This rushed consultation process means that most incorporated bodies will be obliged to ignore his discussion paper or breach organisational protocols and possible governance provisions for incorporated associations.
To adequately respond to the discussion paper most groups need 6 weeks. Given the approach taken by Minister Miles one conclusion is that the consultation process is merely a ‘tick and flick’ step in the process instead of a serious attempt at community consultation.
This draft discussion paper has been dropped into the flurry of consultation about the draft SEQ Regional Plan and changes to Queensland planning provisions.
How much effort does the Government really expect of the volunteer networks and community organisations it seeks comments from?
Surely the Government’s well paid communications professionals could better coordinate consultation activities across Government.
Have your say on the Protected Area Strategy
The closing date for public comment is Friday 24 February 2017.
There are three ways of making a submission:
- Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post to Protected Area Strategy, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane QLD 4001
- Provide your submission online via the Queensland Government’s Get Involved website www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au