It may not be a well-known fact, but wildlife remains one of the biggest threats to Australia’s native wildlife.
- A new wilderness-free area of the national park is planned for southeastern NSW
- Hopefully, it will help bring native mammals back to life from the brink of extinction
- Conservationists say more solutions are needed to deal with wild animals
Now it is hoped that building “wildlife free zones” across NSW national parks will help bring dozens of species back to the brink of extinction.
The state government proposes to create 65,000 hectares of wilderness-free national parks, with the first proposed coastal zone in southeastern NSW near Bombala.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service chief Atticus Fleming said the plan would help address one of Australia’s biggest conservation problems.
“One of the biggest factors in that extinction rate was the impact of feral cats, foxes and other wildlife.”
The New South Wales government has proposed ferocious fencing around 2,000 hectares of the South East Forest National Park, Nungatta.
Native mammals including the long-footed potoroo, eastern bettong, smoky mouse, and eastern quoll are among the species the project could reintroduce to the area.
The $ 2.5 to $ 3 million zone is one of seven predator-free areas established by the state government and the first to be established on the east coast.
Mr. Fleming said it was hoped it would help “go back in time” to the bush.
The project contributes to the recovery of forest fires
Sections of the South East Forest National Park were badly burned during the 2019-2020 bushfires.
David Lindenmayer of the ANU School of Environment and Society said reintroducing native species would help the bush recover.
“These animals dig and dig a lot, which actually helps lead to better rain infiltration, much stronger plant growth patterns, and much higher levels of plant cover.”
More solutions are needed
While conservationists like Professor Lindenmayer welcome the creation of these “continental islands,” he said more work needs to be done.
‘It really doesn’t make sense to do this sort of thing unless we address the other factors that determine the decline of animals,’ said Professor Lindenmayer.
“Problems such as extensive logging, excessive fires and logging also need to be addressed.”
Another issue it raised was the “lack” of conservation funds from the state and federal governments.
“Our investment is about one-tenth of what it needs to be, so we have to fix it,” he said.
However, NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said the government is spending more on conservation than it ever has.
“We have never spent more money than we are spending right now,” he said.
The public is encouraged to have their say on the management plan for the Southeast Wild Animal Free Zone before construction begins in the middle of the year.
It is hoped that the first native species can be reintroduced by the end of 2023.