Press Releases for
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PREMIER, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
DATE: Friday, June 10, 2005
GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK SOON TO BE A REALITY
The Premier, Steve Bracks, today announced the State Government would legislate to create a new 100,000 ha National Park for the Otways, stretching from Anglesea to Cape Otway.
Mr Bracks said the National Parks (Otways and Other Amendments) Bill, to be introduced to State Parliament next week, would establish the new Great Otway National Park and phase out logging by 2008.
The new National Park will become the largest on Victoria's coast linking the existing Otway National Park and the Angahook-Lorne, Carlisle and Melba Gully State Parks with tracts of former state forest.
Mr Bracks said $13 million would be spent over the next four years on its establishment, including employing 17 people to manage the Park.
"The Great Otway National Park will increase Victoria's park areas by more than 60,000 ha and will be nine times the size of the existing National Park," Mr Bracks said.
"This initiative fulfils a key election commitment from the Government, protects old growth forest and threatened flora and fauna and creates one of the world's great National Parks along the Great Ocean Rd.
"The Great Ocean Road is a cornerstone of Victoria's $10.6 billion tourist industry attracting 2.5 million visitors a year. By protecting this magnificent environment, we are safeguarding the future of one of our greatest tourist destinations."
Minister for the Environment, John Thwaites, said the Government had accepted the majority of recommendations from a Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) investigation and would table a response in Parliament.
He said VEAC and the community had helped shape the recommendations, with more than 1800 submissions received during the two-year investigation.
"Despite some different views on exactly how we will preserve this amazing environment, Victorians generally want the tall forests, rainforests, coastal heathlands, surf beaches and world-class tourism facilities that we enjoy today to be enjoyed in the future," he said.
Mr Thwaites said around 40,000 ha of public land in the Otways would also be set aside as Forest Park a new category of public land.
"The Otway Forest Park will allow for a wide range of recreational activities and will have a strong emphasis on community access," Mr Thwaites said.
"The development of a new category of public land is in response to community desires to have a diverse range of recreation activities available in the Otways, not usually allowed in National Parks.
"The Otway Forest Park will be available for horse riding, dog-walking and four wheel driving, as well as nature conservation and minor resource use like firewood collection."
Mr Thwaites thanked Barwon Water and South West Water, who assisted by transferring land to the Crown for addition to the National Park. He said the main purpose for adding forested water catchments to the park was to supply high quality water to regional communities.
"This is another important Park in Victoria's world class system of National and Marine Parks, providing economic benefits for our regions, recreational opportunities for Victorians and visitors and protecting our unique environment," Mr Thwaites said.
Mr Bracks said the $121 million funding boost for Victoria's parks system announced in the State Budget would mean better weed and pest control in parks, including in the new Great Otway National Park.
The establishment of the Park follows a range of other
important State Government initiatives in the region including:
The best of the Otways to be
Friday 10th June 2005
Conservationists from the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN) have today applauded the State Government's decision to create a 102,000 ha Great Otway National Park.
The decision places almost 60% of the current Otways State Forest into the National Park and nature conservation reserves. The Otway State Forest, which totals 92,000 ha, will be disbanded with about 52,500 ha (57%) going into the Great Otway National Park and about 1,900 ha (2%) going into the Jancourt Nature Conservation Reserve.
The rest of the Otway State Forest will become a Forest Park legislated under the Crown Lands Reserves Act where logging will be banned when log and woodchip licences expire in June 2008.
"We are delighted that so much of the existing State Forest in the Otways, which until recently was being clearfell logged for woodchips, will now become a National Park" said spokesperson for the Otway Ranges Environment Network, Simon Birrell.
"This decision, a gift to the children of the future, will protect the outstanding diverse natural environment in the Otways forever."
"Conservationists in OREN know that most people are extremely happy with the decision to allow the Otway forests to grow, free from the chainsaw and bulldozer."
"OREN welcomes the State Government's decision to legislate the Forest Park under the Crown Lands Reserves Act. This decision gives recognition to the significant nature conservation values that exist in the Forest Park and helps the community understand that Forest Parks will never be available for commercial logging in the future."
"Key areas of State Forest will be included in the new National Park. These areas include all Rainforest Sites of Significance, the East and West Barwon Catchments which together make up the bulk of the Otway Geelong water supply, the Arkins Creek catchment which makes up critical part of the Warrnambool water supply catchment and the Aire Heritage River corridor."
"Many areas where protests against logging occurred will now be put into the new National Park; these include the forests of Riley's Ridge, Cumberland river, Wye river, Sabine Falls, Wilddog Ridge and forest in the Aire river catchment at places such as Ciancio Creek and Halls Ridge."
"Less well known but critically important areas in the far Western Otways will also be protected by the National Park. These area include the Carlisle Heathlands and significant remnant woodland forests left over from the Heytesbury Land Settlement Scheme; about 43,000 ha of forest was cleared for dairy farming between of 1957 and 1970."
Apollo Bay resident and long time conservationist Roger Hardley said today "OREN will focus on the remaining 37,000 ha of Otway Forest Park where clearfell logging is schedule to continue until log licences expire in June 2008. OREN does not take anything for granted. OREN's campaign focus will now be to ensure Otway native forest logging ends by 2008 or sooner. Currently the greatest threat to the Forest Park is the Liberal Party which, at both the State and Federal levels, still supports clearfell logging in the Otways until 2020 under the West Regional Forest Agreement."
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