PO Box A96, Sydney South NSW 1235 Ph: (02) 9233 4660 Fax: (02) 9233 4880

News Release 9 December1996

Message To John Howard: Hands off NSW Parks and Forests

The National Parks Association of NSW today warned Prime Minister John Howard that NSW conservationists would not stand by and watch the Federal Government attempt to corrupt the national parks system in NSW or weaken the new forest national parks expected to be created over the next two years.

NSW has less than 8% of its land area in secure nature conservation reserves. The National Forest Policy Statement promises a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of secure forest reserves in NSW and the rest of the country. It is vital that a viable and secure forest reserve system be set in place as a core element for the protection of biodiversity into the long term future. NPA Executive Officer, Noel Plumb said, "We are alarmed at reports that the Federal Environment and Resources Ministers have agreed to mining in the new reserves for old growth, wilderness and other high conservation value forests or else have agreed that secure reserves will be reduced."

"This is the thin end of the wedge which the miners, loggers and developers would like to drive into NSW’s National Parks system of nature conservation reserves. Facile talk of multiple use parks by the Federal Government is just a blind for the greedy and the ignorant to destroy generations of conservation work."

" If these reports have any substance at all, we call on John Howard to rein in his Resources Minister, Senator Parer, and stiffen the spine of his Environment Minister, Senator Hill. Mr Howard’s Government has already shown its anti - environment / pro development credentials with bad decisions on woodchipping, greenhouse gas emissions, uranium mining and the Hinchinbrook Island World Heritage area, amongst others, in just the first nine months of office"

"The tens of thousands of NSW people who have supported a National Parks system clearly based on one thing, nature conservation and the protection of natural values, won’t stand for corruption of our parks system. The NPA will fight any attempt to undermine the existing system or to devalue the new forest additions."

"We call on the State Government to reject any such proposals from the Howard Government and especially any attempt to blackmail the State over the use of the $60 million dollars of Federal funding promised for structural adjustment assistance to the NSW timber industry over the next few years."

For further comment: Noel Plumb 02 9233 4660 or 018 975 075