Qld govt to buy land for protected areas

·2-min read

The Queensland government has revealed it's in the final stages of purchasing some new protected areas after green groups criticised the pace of its conservation strategy.

The Palaszczuk government unveiled its 10-year conservation plan last year, which noted 8.25 per cent of Queensland's landmass, or 14.2 million hectares - twice the size of Tasmania - is already protected.

The plan reaffirmed the government's 2015 pledge to double protected areas to 17 per cent of the state's landmass.

Conservation groups say the government is nowhere near that goal, with the rate of protected area expansion falling dramatically last year.

The government protected 207,728 hectares per year between 2015-2020, but that slumped by 90 per cent to 15,699 hectares in 2020/21.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon says the government is on the cusp of purchasing property that will become protected areas.

"We're in the final stages of acquisitions at the moment, and we'll have some more to say on that very soon," she told reporters on Friday.

"Of course I think Queenslanders acknowledge that we need to keep growing our protected areas so they can protect the enormous biodiversity we have here in Queensland."

Ms Scanlon said the properties will be bought using part of $60 million in funding set aside for protecting biodiversity.

She said funding was also needed to maintain biodiversity in existing protected areas, as well as for land restoration in unprotected areas.

"As Queenslanders would expect, we need to make sure we spend the money wisely," the minister said.

The National Parks Association of Queensland, the Queensland Conservation Council and Pew Charitable Trusts earlier criticised the slow rate of national parks and protected area expansion.

"It will take nearly 1000 years for the Palaszczuk government to meet its protected area target at the current rate of expansion," Pew Charitable Trusts spokesman Pepe Clarke said in a statement.

The groups said the declaration of the Glen Rock National Park and Conservation Park was a positive development this year.

They also support the return of the Daintree, Hope Island, Ngalba Bulal and Kalkajaka (Black Mountain) national parks to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People and the Gheebulum Kunungai (Moreton Island) National Park to the Quandamooka People.

National Parks Association of Queensland president Susanne Cooper said more investment in the next state budget was needed to protect these areas, which would have flow-on benefits for the tourism industry.

She cited University of Queensland research showing national park visitor spending was about $3.7 billion per year and supported more than 24,000 jobs.

"To fulfil the Queensland government's vision of a world-class protected area system, we need strong leadership and increased investment in national parks, private protected areas and Indigenous-led conservation," Ms Cooper said.

"Queensland's protected areas provide a vital haven for wildlife, underpin our nature-based tourism industry and provide world-class recreation opportunities."

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