Behind the image 31 May 2014

Mountain Creek Alpine National ParkThis is Mountain Creek, at Mountain Creek camping site, at the Bogong area of the Alpine National Park, northeast Victoria, Australia.  Here is the starting point for a classic walk which takes you up the Staircase Spur to the roof of Victoria – the top of Mt Bogong (1986m).

This is one of my favourite places – I’ve been coming here for years.  The thing about the Kiewa valley, where this is located, is the ways it’s reinvented itself with a thriving economy now based on recreation (walking, mountain-biking and skiing) and locally grown produce. It’s a living example of the ways conservation, national parks and LoST ideas can contribute to local economies, mosaics of land-uses and community resilience.

 

Ecotourism and national parks

There was recently a story coming out of Tasmania, Australia regarding ecotourism in national parks.  One of the alarming things in the story is yet another apparent attack on protected areas in Australia, this time by the new conservative Government in Tasmania.  According to the story:

Tasmania’s incoming Hodgman Liberal government has pledged to invite more investment within parks and reserves, improve access in the Arthur-Pieman coastline to unrestrained off-road vehicle access, and to log parts of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area.

Tasmanian old growth forest.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

This is also against a backdrop of peeling away the so-called ‘green tape’ of environmental regulation to move towards a more deregulated system.

I must confess, I’m struggling to see logic to any of this and it seems to me that it is straight out a decision by ideologues with a default position of ‘free, unregulated market’.  The logic I’m failing to see is related to the following:

  1. Ecotourism in Tasmania is worth more to the economy than logging – much more.
  2. Tasmania has positioned itself as being a green tourism destination.
  3. Logging will generate short-term income for major logging companies.  Ecotourism, done properly, will provide long-term jobs, income generation and, most of all, sustainability.
  4. The Regional Forest Agreement that was developed to protect Tasmania’s forests had taken a very long time to negotiate. But the RFA is a platform for cooperation between logging, green jobs and sustainable futures.
  5. The fact that the new Government is trying to get some parts of the World Heritage area de-listed means once again an Australian Government is pulling away from its international obligations.  As a wealthy country there is absolutely no excuse for this.

In addition to all of this, the story also discusses the need for some form of regulation of the ecotourism industry’s activities in national parks. Once again, the ‘de-regulation’ mantra comes out from Government.

What I find quite sad is that lot’s of my posts are critical of the ways Australian governments are turning back core sustainability initiatives – climate change responses, national parks, alternative energy etc. Gains over a lot of years that I would hope have mainstream support are being fundamentally wound back.

Soon we will be having policies on the basis that the earth is flat…

You can see the story here.