What is a protected area?

A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

(IUCN Definition 2008)

Protected areas – national parks, wilderness areas, community conserved areas, nature reserves and so on – are a mainstay of biodiversity conservation, while also contributing to people’s livelihoods, particularly at the local level. Protected areas are at the core of efforts towards conserving nature and the services it provides us – food, clean water supply, medicines and protection from the impacts of natural disasters. Their role in helping mitigate and adapt to climate change is also increasingly recognized; it has been estimated that the global network of protected areas stores at least 15% of terrestrial carbon.

Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area at dawn, from Boolimba Bluff, Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park.
Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Area at dawn, from Boolimba Bluff, Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park.

Building a world-leading protected area system for Queensland

Capricorn Conservation Council is a signatory to the Protected Area Joint Statement by Queensland’s leading environmental organisations.

We welcome and support the Queensland Government’s commitment to building ‘a world-leading protected area system for Queensland.

Fulfilling this ambition will require a substantial shift in policy direction. Queensland has the lowest proportion of land in protected areas (around 8 per cent) of any state or territory in Australia. Well short of the international target of 17 per cent.

In recent years, expansion of our protected area system has been minimal, management is chronically underfunded and existing protected areas are threatened by inappropriate commercial development.

At the same time, Queensland has also pioneered a new model of a national park, based around Australian First Nations Peoples owned land and joint management between Traditional Owners and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. This model has converted existing national parks and added new ones and other protected areas across Cape York and has the potential to be adapted and used elsewhere in Queensland.
We seek your support for the following policy reforms and public investment to address these issues:

Strengthening protection for Queensland’s protected areas by

  • amending the Nature Conservation Act 1992 restoring the cardinal principle;
  • passing the Nature Conservation (Special Wildlife Reserves) and Other
  • Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Qld) to create a new class of private protected area; and
  • proactively phasing out grazing leases in national parks.

Growing and improving the management of our national parks network by

  • investing $56 million per year for improved on-ground management of conservation values; and
  • $55 million per year for acquisition, with matching increments in funding for QPWS to manage added parks as needed.

Supporting Indigenous land management by

  • investing in the future success of the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program by creating 200 new ranger positions over the next ten years.

Restoring land to Traditional Owners, creating new protected areas by

  • investing $50 million over five years (2019-2024) to extend the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program beyond its current end date of June 2019; and
  • maximizing opportunities for jointly managed areas and extending the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program model or similar as part of a broader strategy to support Indigenous conservation approaches.

Funding our protected areas by

  • increasing capital funding for protected areas to a level more consistent with their important contribution to Queensland’s economy, environment and lifestyle;
  • allocating $150 million over 3 years* from the waste levy to contribute to the implementation of the Queensland Protected Areas Strategy,
  • and exploring options for raising additional revenue through mechanisms such as a bushland preservation levy.
Implementing these practical recommendations presents a unique opportunity for the Palaszczuk Government to deliver on its commitment to creating a world-leading protected area system.

Growing private protected areas by

  • investing $40 million over four years in Nature Assist to deliver strategic growth of private protected areas and improved financial and technical support to landholders to better manage their lands.