Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Action toward wilderness protection in Australia - Keith Muir

Keith Muir

Wilderness in all its diversity has evolved over 3.5 billion years. When we experience wilderness, we reconnect with the environment of our seven million year human evolutionary journey, but now the environment that nurtured this development can only continue on its evolutionary journey with our help. This paper is about Australia’s efforts to protect wilderness from the all-pervasive influence of modern technological society.
Australia is a federation of states and each state is as different as the people within it. Due to the constitutional difficulties of co-ordinating the nine governments of the federation any national resources strategy, such as for wilderness protection, generally requires bilateral agreements between each state and the federal government based upon a set of over-arching principles. The 1992 National Forest Policy Statement provided just such a framework.1
The Statement committed all governments to establishing a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system on forested lands and, concurrently, to providing resource security for the forest industries. The implementation policies developed under the Statement included a reservation target of ninety per cent of all forest wilderness, and the development of management plans to protect these wilderness lands.2
By the time state governments had signed the Forest Policy all, except for Tasmania, had passed legislation for the protection of wilderness areas.3  Yet only the most populous and developed states of Victoria and New South Wales had active wilderness programs, a trend that has continued until recently.
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