MEDIA RELEASE: Environment groups welcome ambitious draft NT Parks Masterplan

The Keep Top End Coasts Healthy alliance has welcomed the release of the NT Government’s draft Parks Masterplan 2052 but warns that an increase in investment is needed if its ambitious goals are to be met.

Adele Pedder, spokesperson for Keep Top End Coasts Healthy, said “the draft NT Parks Masterplan recognises the importance of our parks and provides a clear plan to protect our natural and cultural values. But an ambitious plan will need to be matched with ambitious funding if it is to deliver what Top End nature and culture needs.”

“Territorians love their parks. These precious places provide a vital haven for native wildlife and are highly valued as a place to spend time outdoors, camping, fishing and enjoying time with family and friends. Our parks are the backbone for our tourism industry and core to our economic success.” 

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

“Across our coasts, many Territorians have observed that things on the water are not as good as they used to be. Mangroves are being destroyed and coral bleaching has hit our reefs. Industrial development is expanding along the coast, polluting our Harbour and damaging our fishing.” 

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

The draft NT Parks Masterplan was released together with the draft NT 10 Year Activation Plan. This sets out a plan for development and improvement of infrastructure on parks and reserves.   

Ms Pedder said “capital works and maintenance of our parks estate is important but it should not come at a cost to funding directed to management and protection of biodiversity and cultural values across NT parks.”

“The draft NT Parks Masterplan has the potential to be a turning point for the protection of our natural and cultural values. The Gunner Government will need to invest now if it is to deliver this ambitious plan,” concluded Ms Pedder. 

The draft NT Parks Masterplan and the draft NT Activation plan can be viewed here. Public consultation is open for 6 weeks with submissions closing on 31 May 2022.

Comment specific to the draft masterplan: 

The draft NT Parks Masterplan has strong goals and targets for biodiversity and cultural heritage protection, including:

  • Passing the parks estate on to future generations with it’s biodiversity intact, expanded and improved;
  • Parks and reserves have adequate resilience to sustain healthy species and ecosystems in the face of climate change;
  • Cultural values and heritage respected and protected;
  • Application of ‘two way’ knowledge systems and supporting Aboriginal economic development in parks;
  • Aboriginal people are actively managing key cultural sites across the parks estate and there will be zero extinctions of native wildlife within the parks estate by 2052;
  • A strong focus on improvements to marine management and protection, including through legislation; 
  • Institutional and regulatory support for aspirations of Traditional Owners and appropriate regional governance arrangements; and 
  • Improvements to joint management of the parks estate.

The following areas 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
  • Sea country Indigenous Protected Areas, marine parks and reserves, and sea country management plans all have the potential to contribute to healthy coasts and seas. Integration and collaboration across tenures is especially important for addressing the lack of management and protection of our coasts.

Contact: Adele Pedder 0422 108 539, [email protected]