Two of the state’s leading environment groups have declared that securing water supplies for the new river red gum national parks recently established in northern Victoria will be a top priority for water policy in the lead up to the State Election.
“Declaring the national parks was an act of leadership, but without water these parks will struggle to survive,” said Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“75 percent of the trees in these forests are already stressed, dead or dying, so it’s becoming increasingly urgent for the new national parks to get a decent drink,” she said.
The groups have written to the state’s major political parties asking them to support a ‘River Rescue Package’ including a $500 million water-buy back fund to purchase 250 billion litres of water for the red gum parks and their river catchments.
“We’ve undertaken focus group research in key electorates which found that Victorians care deeply about the crisis afflicting our rivers, and they are doing whatever they can to save water. Now they want our politicians do their bit by returning water to our rivers and wetlands,” said Ms O’Shanassy.
Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Nick Roberts said the community wants to see lasting solutions to the state’s water issues.
“We need a plan to safeguard our rivers and wetlands by getting more water into them. It’s time for the state government to listen to voters, drop its opposition to buying back water for the environment, and remove barriers to water trading.”
The River Rescue Package released by the groups today also calls for:
“Our rivers have been waiting for a drink for too long. Environment groups will be campaigning in key areas across the state to ensure that restoring our rivers and delivering water to the newly created Red Gum parks is a key election issue,” Mr Roberts concluded.
For interview contact:
Kelly O’Shanassy, Environment Victoria on 0421 054 402
Nick Roberts, Victorian National Parks Association 0429 945 429
Media assistance: Louise Matthiesson on 9341 8113 or 0417 017 844
Recent photographs of a thirsty ancient river red gum tree are available on request