Victoria’s much-loved magnificent River Red Gums along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers in northern Victoria will now be protected for many generations to come.
Legislation passed in State Parliament last night gave the green light for the creation of almost 100,000 hectares of new River Red Gum National Parks from Lake Hume to the South Australian border, a decision much-applauded by the state’s leading environment groups.
“This historic outcome follows more than 20 years of campaigning by conservation, community and Aboriginal groups,” Matt Ruchel, the Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director said.
“This is one of the greatest victories for the protection of nature and conservation in the state’s history.”
Jonathan La Nauze, Friends of the Earth Red Gum Campaign Coordinator, applauded the move to Indigenous co-management of public lands.
“The success of world-renowned parks like Kakadu shows that Indigenous co‐management can deliver not only the best environmental outcomes, but important social and economic outcomes as well,” he said.
“This legislation is an important milestone in the journey towards land justice. It is now up to Environment Minister Gavin Jennings to make strong, binding agreements with Traditional Owners that secure their rights to care for their country.”
The Victorian Government’s decision to create the River Red Gums national parks followed more than four years of independent investigations and public consultation by the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC), and will see a significant reduction in environmentally damaging logging and cattle grazing.
“The Brumby Government will be remembered well for delivering a notable conservation and Indigenous reconciliation outcome. We commend community members across Victoria who have supported and successfully campaigned for this great outcome,” Gavan Mc Fadzean from The Wilderness Society said.
“We urge the government to move quickly to establish management plans and appropriate resourcing for the parks, and to address the need to ensure the parks have sufficient access to environmental water to stay healthy.”
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesperson Lindsay Hesketh said, “These new parks will help protect hundreds of native plants and animals in what will be some of Victoria’s greatest national parks.”
The groups called on the NSW government to follow Victoria’s example and implement a similar high level of protection for the River Red Gum forests along the NSW side of the rivers.
For comment contact:
Matt Ruchel, Victorian National Parks Association on 0418 357 813
Jonathan La Nauze, Friends of the Earth on 0402 904 251
Gavan McFadzean, The Wilderness Society on 0414 754 023
Lindsay Hesketh, Australian Conservation Foundation on 0418 655 551