OREN PRESS RELEASE
Conservationists Welcome $7 million Funding for Otway Forest-Based Tourism
Walking track to Little Aire Falls initially an OREN idea.
Sunday 2nd January 2005
Today Otway conservationists have welcomed the State Government's decision
to fund Otway forest-based tourism infrastructure on public land to the
tune of $7 million.
Since 2000, members from the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN)
have participated in government processes to review and develop forest-based
tourism projects in the Otways, as one alternative to clearfell logging
of the forests. OREN was first to propose the walking track to Little
Aire Falls in 2001. This is one of the projects that will now be funded.
Note: Little Aire Falls is a large and spectacular water fall.
"Sustainable forest based tourism is one of the big employment opportunities
for the future of the Otways," said Otway Ranges Environment Network
spokesperson, Simon Birrell.
"For years conservationists have been actively arguing that the
full economic potential of Otway forest-based tourism has not been recognised.
It is great to see the State Government investing in this potential.
"The huge growth in employment opportunities in the region has clearly
been in tourism along the coast. This further funding decision will enhance
Otway job opportunities and offset the small number of people currently
employed to clearfell log and woodchip Otway biodiverse native forest.
"It is also important to remember that logging in the extensive
Otways plantations will continue to provide employment for people who
want to stay in the regional timber industry."
Today Apollo Bay local resident and OREN spokesperson Roger Hardley said
"OREN is very happy that its proposal to develop a walking track
to Little Aire Falls will be funded. The Little Aire Falls initiative
puts an end to the idea that conservationists are just about saving trees
and are against development."
"OREN has always worked within the reality that to get good conservation
outcomes, the long term sustainable economic well being of the whole community
must be considered."
STATE GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PREMIER, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
DATE: Sunday, January 2, 2005
NEW NATURE BASED TOURISM INITIATIVE FOR OTWAYS
Acting Premier, John Thwaites, today announced $7 million in funding
to help create a new nature based tourism future for the Otways.
"This package of projects represents one of Victoria's largest ever
investments in public land tourism," Mr Thwaites said
Mr Thwaites also welcomed a land donation from the Trust for Nature,
that will result in an important addition to the Melba Gully State Park
near Lavers Hill, off the Great Ocean Road.
And he officially declared open Stage One of the Great Ocean Walk
the section that stretches 32 km from Apollo Bay to Cape Otway.
"Tourists and locals can now walk through magnificent forests, heathlands
and spectacular coastal landscapes along the Otway and Shipwreck coasts,"
Mr Thwaites said.
"I encourage all Victorians to explore this area and the State's
entire network of parks that protect the environment, provide recreational
opportunities and boost local economies through tourism."
Speaking at Melba Gully State Park, Mr Thwaites said that under the New
Future for the Otways Tourism Initiative 19 projects would be jointly
managed or implemented by the Department of Sustainability and Environment
(DSE) and Parks Victoria over the next three years.
"It means that by 2008 when logging is phased out of the Otways,
19 projects will be completed to strengthen tourism in the region and
to provide economic growth and jobs for local townships.
"The Bracks Government is helping balance the social, economic and
environmental future of this region as it moves away from an economic
reliance on the timber industry," he said.
"The Government believes tourism will be an increasingly important
economic driver for the Otway hinterland, providing growth and jobs for
towns and rural communities."
Today's announcement follows the completion of the Victorian Environment
Assessment Council's (VEAC) recent investigation that recommended a major
expansion of the Otways National Park.
Projects that will be implemented in the coming three years include:
· A major redevelopment at Triplet Falls with the creation of a
new track with sections of elevated walkway to the waterfall
· Upgrade of short walk opportunities at Erskine Falls, Beauchamp
Falls, Hopetoun Falls and Stevenson's Falls
· Construction of a track for walkers and bikes to link the township
of Forrest to the beautiful Lake Elizabeth
· Development of mountain bike trails in the forests of the Otways
· Construction of a new walking track to Little Aire Falls
· A feasibility study into economic opportunities for the township
· Completion of the final two stages of the Great Ocean Walk.
"These developments are all part of a New Future for the Otways
the Bracks Government's commitment to ceasing logging in the Otways,
creating a new National Park and investing in eco-tourism," Mr Thwaites
"Our aim is to ensure the Otway hinterland can establish itself
as a thriving long term tourist destination, making the most of its amazing
Mr Thwaites said the Trust For Nature's Melba Gully eight hectare land
donation was significant for the protection of valuable plant and wildlife,
including four threatened or rare species unique to the Otways region.
"The land being donated provides habitat for the Bristly Shield,
which is a type of fern, the Satinwood tree, trachyloma a rare
moss, and the Otway Black Snail," he said.
"This land donation follows the release of the Victorian Environmental
Assessment Council's (VEAC) recommendations that Melba Gully be included
in a new Otways Ranges National Park.
"That means the land will be given the highest level of protection
if recommendations are accepted."
Melba Gully was originally created following previous land donations
totalling 57 hectares by Trust for Nature to the State Government.
The total park size now stands at 73 hectares.
The Director of the Trust for Nature, Dr Michael Looker, said he was
delighted to be able to donate the additional land to the Victorian Government
and help conserve Victoria's precious environmental heritage.
"Trust for Nature is committed to conserving all significant environmental
areas in private ownership and in working with local communities to achieving
sustainable solutions," he said.
Through land purchase and placing of conservation covenants on private
land, the Trust for Nature has protected around 66,000 hectares of bushland
Mr Thwaites said the Government would respond to VEAC's recommendations
over coming months.
Today's announcements are in addition to an initiative announced by the
Premier Steve Bracks' last year of funding of $13.5 million for a land
and transport plan for the Great Ocean Road.
A summary of the Otways Tourism Initiative is available from the Department
of Sustainability and Environment Customer Service Centre on 136 186,
or go to http://www.dse.vic.gov.au
Otways parks and tourism grow together
January 4, 2005