Once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the future of our Top End parks

Dear Chief Minister Fyles and Minister Manison, 

I support the development of the NT Parks Masterplan 2022-2052. 

A strong plan for our parks and reserves on land and sea has the potential to be a turning point for the protection of the NT’s natural and cultural values. 

The health of nature in the Top End is under threat. Feral animals, invasive weeds and uncontrolled wildfires are placing significant and increasing pressure on native plants and wildlife. 

One of the best tools we have to protect the Top End are well-managed parks and reserves, but current laws and funding is insufficient.

It is encouraging that the draft NT Parks Masterplan recognises the importance of our parks and provides a clear plan with strong goals and targets to protect our natural and cultural values. But this ambitious plan will need to be matched with ambitious funding if it is to deliver what Top End nature and culture needs.

A credible allocation from general revenue should be the principal means of funding the protected area system. Investment in protected areas should be proportionate to the public goods and services they provide. This investment should support expansion of protected areas on land and sea and active management such as Aboriginal ranger programs to conduct on ground management addressing threats like fire, ferals, and weeds - people caring for country.

I strongly support the draft plan’s recognition and prioritisation of Aboriginal interests and the leading role they play in management, recovery and restoration of biodiversity and cultural values.

Further, the following issues need to be addressed in the final plan:

  • Recognition that the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1976 is outdated and needs modernising;
  • The NT Government should properly assess and value the contribution protected areas make to the Territory’s economy and reinvest a commensurate amount for their ongoing management and expansion; 
  • Recognition of coastal and marine biogeographic regions that are unrepresented or have only a minimal extent of reserves; and
  • Recognise/address biogeographic regions not represented or underrepresented across land and sea 
  • Recognition of the important role that sea country Indigenous Protected Areas, marine parks and sea country management plans play in protecting marine biodiversity and cultural values. 

The draft NT Parks Masterplan is a strong framework to strengthen our much-loved parks estate on land and sea. The Fyles Government will need to invest now if it is to deliver this ambitious plan.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing the final NT Parks Masterplan later this year.