The Great Forest National Park will deliver a secure future for endangered species, has huge potential to safeguard against climate change, and will protect domestic and rural water catchments, a new report shows.
In early December, an alliance of Forest conservation groups have released a report outlining the planning and analysis behind the Great Forest National Park proposal.
Building on decades of work, since 2012 conservationists have been working with researchers and regional communities to create the Great Forest National Park reserve proposal.
The proposal received unprecedented levels of support in the lead-up to the 2014 state election, with 9 out of 10 Victorians supporting its creation, and Sir David Attenborough and Dame Jane Goodall speaking out in favour of it.
Supporters will be on the steps of Parliament from 5pm this evening to mark the end of the Parliamentary sitting year.
A well-designed reserve system is a critical component for society’s protection of natural, cultural, economic and social values in our forests.
The Summary Report sets out some key values of the Central Highlands forests – water, wildlife, forest, carbon and National Estate – and shows how these will be protected by the creation of the Great Forest National park.
The report also shows the extent of the impact of fire on the landscape, and also the logging history.
To improve the network of protected areas throughout the Central Highlands of Victoria, a set of criteria was developed based on the ‘Standard Criteria for Sites of Biological Significance in Victoria’ and ‘High Conservation Values Evaluation Framework’ under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
These criteria were applied at the sub-catchment scale, and the concentration of values informs the proposed reserve design of the Great Forest National Park.
The Great Forest National Park Summary Report is available at www.greatforestnationalpark.com.au
“While the world meets in Paris to set an agenda for tackling climate change, the Great Forest National Park can protect carbon in the landscape, and earn the state tens of millions of dollars in carbon credits,” says Sarah Rees Director of regional conservation group MyEnvironment.
“Recent analysis and scientific research over several decades show that for the Leadbeater’s Possum to avoid being driven into extinction, urgent intervention is needed to stop logging of its habitat. A new, large reserve must be created for the possum and many other species which share its forest home,” says Steve Meacher, President of Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum.
“The tourism potential is huge,” says Karina Doughty for Warburton Environment. “With three out of four visitors coming to the region for a nature-based tourism experience, we need to cater for these domestic and international tourists by providing the infrastructure they’re looking for.”
“The Great Forest National Park will be Melbourne’s green cradle. Protecting nature right on our doorstep will show positive leadership and makes good economic sense,” says Amelia Young, Campaigns Director with the Wilderness Society Victoria.
The Working Group for the Great Forest National Park, which includes Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, Friends of Toolangi Forest, Knitting Nannas of Toolangi, Healesville Environment Watch Inc, MyEnvironment, Warburton Environment, The Wilderness Society Victoria, Victorian National Parks Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, individual conservationists and local residents, published the Great Forest National Park Summary Report.