Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Kakadu’s Wilderness at risk

Plans to remove the 475,000 hectare wilderness zone from Kakadu National Park’s ‘Stone Country’ will be revealed at the Fifth National Wilderness Conference to be held at the University of Technology in Sydney over this weekend.

“The new draft Kakadu plan of management offers no explanation for the proposed abandonment of all the current zoning controls,” said Mr Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Kakadu’s Stone Country may be pretty well impossible to development but not the slopes surrounding the sandstone escarpment.  Where are the controls in Kakadu’s new plan of management to prevent development of these sensitive areas?  Without the certainty of planning prescriptions, Kakadu could head in all sorts of undesirable directions,” said Mr Muir.

“Further commercial tourism could be almost as damaging as more mining.  Concentrations of people mean lots of sewage effluent, roads, clearing, and infrastructure for electricity and telephones.

“The Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell should make wilderness preservation a prerequisite for approval of the management plan for Kakadu.  Wilderness precludes all forms of development and isn’t wilderness all about setting aside areas for nature?, asked Mr Muir.

“The Kakadu wilderness zone was approved by the Kakadu Board of Management in 1986. It was a good idea to set aside a third of Kakadu National Park in a wilderness zone in 1986: why wind back protection now?

“Wilderness protection in Federally managed parks should be greatly expanded to curb increasing development pressures. Minister Campbell should reinstate a Wilderness Unit in his Department of Environment and Heritage to ensure these rare areas are adequately protected and managed,” Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)

Conference Key Note speaker: Helen Gee will present a free public lecture on wilderness from 8pm at UTS and is available for interview on (02) 9261 2400 (wk)

Website http://www.colongwilderness.org.au/CelebratingWilderness/About.htm for conference program, speakers bios, background notes, images and venue details