Colin Barnett’s announcement of a new Kimberley Wilderness Park – including the so called Great Kimberley Marine Park – and a Kimberley Conservation Plan, should have been a visionary announcement as he has claimed. But it was not.
The reasons why are simple. He simply didn’t listen to the advice of the people who know, as best described by Prof Jessica Meeuwig from UWA who simply said there was no science behind the Parks. She described the protection accorded marine life by the Camden Sound Marine Park as woefully inadequate. Which was nicer than one news outlet who reported the process of zoning the new marine park as ‘Colin Barnett scribling on the map with crayons.’
It is an indictment upon the Premier but also on the Department’s who advise him, particularly the DEC who should have been giving him the conservation science, that he couldn’t make the most of this opportunity. In an area of low use conflict and extraordinary and undisputed environmental value, he could have achieved a very good conservation outcome.
The criticism has so far focused on the detail of the first marine park to be announced in Camden Sound. You can see my summary of this new park on the blog posts – link to come (here is it!).
But on land there are similar bungles. The worst being the so called upgrade of the Prince Regent Nature Reserve to a National Park. In reality this is a downgrade in protection. A nature reserve is managed soley for conservation. A national park is also for human use and opens the area up for increased tourism use and development – you could argue the merits of this, but it is clearly a bungle in spin over the truth. Other ideas such as increased joint management with Traditional Owners are excellent in theory, but still need the detail.
Fortunately, there is still time to get it right. Consultation on the detail of the Camden Sound Marine Park has just begun and the details of future land and sea parks are yet to be announced. If the Premier can reach out to Scientists and Conservationists to get the advice he needs on what modern standards for protection are, then his vision of being the man who saved the Kimberley could be real.
Its been a poor start, but the race isn’t over yet.
(note more details on Camden Sound and links to make submissions on Happy Squid. Links to come. Here is is – link to DEC website with details and comment form)
Posted by Wordmobi