Why do we need to have National Parks?

by Catherine Russell, over 3 years ago
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In your own words what is the purpose of a National Park? And do we need them today? 

Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
I love being in the bush, and the more remote it is the more my spirit feels free.Younger generations seem to value technical environments more than non-technical environments. NPs are well placed to encourage appreciation of non-technical environments. I feel NPs will become increasingly vital to help balance new generations desire to connect with friends at the expense of connecting with ‘self’. NPs that offer a wide range of interests will attract a wider range of people to visit them and re-connect with the spiritual values of a less technical era.As climate change, human foot-prints & pollution increase, many current flora and fauna will be threatened, and their loss will be a loss to human-kind. Although evolution will continue to fill environmental niches with new species, it is vital we urgently improved our understanding of how best to maximise species bio-diversity everywhere, especially in our NPs.I visit NPs to see the views, space, mountains and rivers, feel the wind, sun and spiritual elements and absorb the beauty of flowers, marsupials and observing family mobs of wild horses going about their daily activities. I would be devastated to lose any one of these species at the expense of another; therefore to me the key role for NPWS is to manage these species in sustainable numbers so future generations can also benefit from visiting NPs to enjoy nature alongside our Aboriginal and Post-settlement social values and heritage. Regards Bio-Brumby
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Cobber over 3 years ago
NEW COMMENT:Have you ever seen a corroboree frog? Though I've been a keen bushwalker all my life, the first ones I saw were part of the Tidbinbilla breeding program. Despite their startling black and yellow markings they are the most delightful little creatures, ressembling tiny plump pieces of rubber which crawl rather than hop.The program aims to to put them back into the alpine bogs that are their home. You see, they have become virtually extinct in their native habitat.Feral plants and animals are an enormous problem in our limited alpine areas. Feral pigs and horses are especially damaging in the alpine national parks, such as Kosciuszko.The pigs dig up swathes of grassland and the horses break down the banks of streams, destroying acres of sphagnum moss, creating muddy wastelands and polluting the water. I saw this damage on a trip to the northern section of Kosciuszko NP several years ago, and more recently just over the border in Victoria's Cobberas Range near the source of the Murray River. Here what should have been beautiful campsites in grassy snowgum saddles were spoilt by piles of dung and dust wallows. It was impossible to find water that was unpolluted by mud and dung.It's not just losing the attractive plants and cute animals in our alpine parks that is a problem. Each species is part of a whole ecosystem, and disturbance of one species can lead to a flow-on of undesirable consequences. Yes, cruelty to feral animals is an issue, but destruction of habitat and death of native species also involves cruelty, though it is usually unseen and therefore not considered. We must use the most effective methods available to remove all feral species from our national parks.Cobber
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Meg,Welcome to the forum. You may be interested to know that Chytridiomycosis is the primary cause of decline for many Australian frog species, and has been listed as a key threatening process at both a state and national level. I agree feral animals can cause damage. Those who value seeing wild horses living wild in KNP (Kosciusko national park) realise that too much of any species, including humans, is not good. Those wanting to see Brumbies in KNP want them living at SUSTAINABLE levels. I.e. at a level their environment is able to maintain a robust impact/recovery model over annual cycles. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Cobber over 3 years ago
I am aware that Chytrid fungus has caused the demise of many frog species and that the perilous state of the two corroboree frog species may well have several causes. However, having horse hooves churning up their habitat could well be the last straw. I fail to see that there can be a sustainable level of a feral species, since it must impact on the native species that already exist. If any feral horses are left, there would need to be constant surveillance and culling when numbers increased to perceived problem numbers. What do you suggest is a sustainable number?Regards, Cobber
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Meg/Cobber,I would support horses being excluded for Spagman Bogs/broad tooth rat for your reasons.Re: sustainable number, I would try1. Identify extra sensitive areas and exclude horses from them, per above,2. Identify areas with unacceptable impacts, reduce by IE 10% annually, review impacts annually, until acceptable level is reached,3. Identify areas where impacts are within limits, and manage those populations within that number.4. Just ideas for now, I would have liked to chat more on sustainable number ideas, maybe move closer to agreement one day?Thanks for your in-put, Bio-Brumby
Perplexed over 3 years ago
Maybe its the old solicitor in me, but go back to the law, legislation and rule book. To me it is pretty evident that national parks were established to conserve native flora and fauna, not conserve introduced species, at least not at the expense or detriment of the native ones. To me the balance is all wrong when we are favouring, or preferentially treating an introduced animal due to our emotional human contructs and sentiment, in preference to native animals and ecosystems that are being pushed to the brink on all fronts even in the small percentage of area that has been legally and democratically set aside to protect and conserve them.
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Khankhan over 3 years ago
A simply and clear summary. Thank you Perplexed. One doesn't actually have to visit to appreciate, existence is part of the knowledge and enjoyment.
coastwatcher over 3 years ago
As another long retired lawyer I agree the original purpose seems to have got lost over the last 20 years or so.
Donna over 3 years ago
"In preference to native animals and ecosystems that are being pushed to the brink on all fronts"??? Which particular species in KNP is being pushed to the brink on any front??? Legislation, law and "the rule book" have their place no question, but are unable to adapt, unlike our ecosystem.
WildHorseEcology over 3 years ago
National Parks are great in concept as they attempt to hold on to the last vestiges of nature undisturbed by human encroachment. The challenge is that the world's ecosystems are in no way free from that nor will they ever be at this point. Preservation can only be mitigated by inclusion of holistic land management which is the ability to serve across all species, including those that are introduced- which I include humankind in that category as well as the brumbies. There are positive contributions brumbies make to ecosystems and those are being overlooked by an unfounded hysteria over keeping the area pristine which it cannot be. Much of the world is threatened by climate change brought on by human civilisation which is having unprecedented negative effects on life as we know it. What small areas are being focused on - like a hoof print near sphagnum moss, is ridiculous given it is only a minuscule snapshot of an entire Park that is in many ways thriving on its own with the major damage being done by human impact and creation of access by 4x4 tracks and a narrow outdated approach to land management. That said, Reserve Design can be employed in the Park so the horses can fill their niche. As climax species this would work well in KNP and other Parks if the people who are experts and understand wild horse behaviour and advocate for the wild horse's contribution through scientific knowledge of this, can be brought in to assist in making this happen.
Stromlo over 3 years ago
Of course. We do need to protect areas from development and overuse by humans. Parks should be important in educating people on nature and the need to protect it. They can be studied so we learn more. Parks provide healthy enjoyment for people. When I was younger, I spent much time in the Snowys hiking, downhill and cross country skiing and caving.And now there is SO much more to do! Music Festivals, Show Jumping, Snow Tubing, Night Skiing and Fireworks (OMG!), Snow Groomer Tours, Mountain Biking Festivals, Summer Bobsledding, Golf, Snowboarding, Abseiling… What are we really teaching people about nature?You can’t on one hand have parks open to such human activity and then blame horses for degrading the landscape. And I also believe that nature is more resilient than the video suggests. You can show a photo of a steam or bog that has been trodden by any creature but with that photo look the same in a year? 6 months? One month?The alpine regions have withstood fire, drought and major human development. There are ski fields (Perisher, Thredbo, Blue Cow, Guthega, Charlotte Pass, Selwyn, Smiggin Holes -and all the associated infrastructure), guided tours (hiking, 4WD, rafting, horse riding…), and let us not forget the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme. National Parks are clearly important to us human beings.
HVBA Vice President over 3 years ago
I think the original purpose of a National Park is to allow nature to live without interference from the destructiveness of Humans. Unfortunately, when we have changed our land so much, this doesn't really work. We must interfere because the other purpose of the National Park is to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the region, and that is impossible to do without some intervention. Post European arrival, Australian's have had an incredibly bad track record when it comes to managing this land, so now we must be extra careful to not do more harm than good. We need to assess and reassess every change we make, and we need to become flexible to the idea of landscape evolution. Pre-European landscapes sounds like a wonderful thing to aspire to, but it is unrealistic when so many things have happened since then. The environment has changed, it has evolved, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has been destroyed or that it is bad. The environment of Australia (of the world really) has changed so many times across history, from a place with an ocean at its center to one with a desert, and everything in between. As our climate changes again, so will the landscape, and all we can do is work with what we have got. I love that I can go to a National Park and have the chance of encountering a wombat or a wallaby or a Brumby or a wild orchid. I love that I can go to a National Park and see aboriginal art or an old European settlers hut and that I can get some idea of what it would have been like to live back in those times. I love that I can go skiing, and hiking, and riding out amongst nature and that I can observe the creatures in their natural environment, interacting and communicating with each other and surviving with minimal interference from us. No creature is worth more than another, they are all as beautiful and important and individual in this world as we are. We created national parks to protect the environment from the ego of humans that believe we have a right to own the world, and now they are there for everyone to enjoy because they are owned by the community. They must be protected, but we must be careful to do it the right way or they will just become another dot point on the long list of Australia's environmental failures.
Themba over 3 years ago
Yes, I think we do need to have National Parks to protect animal and plant life from development. Development is taking over so many areas in Australia I think it is important to protect areas from human encroachment. It is also important to provide a place where animals (whatever they ma be) can live as the do in the wild for future generations to experience. It would be very sad for future generations to only know animals from what they see in the paddock or zoo. It is also an important way for studies to be conducted into how species interact with other species and how those animals live and survive in the wild.I also believe that National Parks should be protected from the effects of increasing human interaction. Yes, it's important that people can visit the parks but it is also important that we protect the parks from the effects of too many people visiting the parks. There is a need to restricted the tourism part of the parks to protect it for the future.