Page 1998 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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This work is ongoing and is important in identifying where our city might grow and where we need to conserve biodiversity. The ACT planning strategy identified that the area to our east, around the Majura and Jerrabomberra valleys, is an area for potential future development and employment opportunities.

In conjunction with the land management system and the ACT planning system through the Planning and Development Act, the Nature Conservation Act 2014 protects conservation areas by requiring the preparation of land management plans. More than 70 per cent of the ACT is dedicated to nature conservation in public land reserves. These include Namadgi National Park, Tidbinbilla, the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo river corridors, the lower Cotter catchment, Jerrabomberra wetlands and Canberra Nature Park.

Namadgi National Park, the largest of the conservation areas, covers over 46 per cent of the territory. Namadgi protects the upper Cotter River catchment, which is a major source of our drinking water and is also part of the 1.6-million-hectare network of reserves across three jurisdictions, known as the Australian alps national parks. I have long advocated for the protection of Namadgi National Park from the threats to its survival as a critical habitat. We have seen the terrible effects of invasive species, particularly large mammals like horses, deer and pigs.

In May this year, officials across EPSDD undertook an aerial control program for these species, using thermal imaging technology. This successfully built on past efforts. Notably, this year’s program was significantly expanded to new areas, where most feral animals were detected. The program found significantly fewer feral animals in areas that had been previously controlled, indicating that those control efforts are effective.

I have spoken in this place many times about the danger that feral horses pose to Namadgi National Park and to our water catchment in the ACT. I was extremely proud to have delivered the Namadgi National Park feral horse management plan in September 2019, and continue to be involved in the implementation of this plan in our treasured Namadgi. It is pleasing that few horses have been detected in Namadgi, but we will remain vigilant and take decisive action as necessary.

Reserves are managed by a dedicated and skilled workforce who, like many of us, have needed to adapt and meet the challenges of the pandemic, along with the lingering impacts of natural disasters like fires and, more recently, the storms and floods, of course. I acknowledge the work that these frontline staff continue to deliver in the face of many new and significant pressures. I also want to recognise the many community members that chose to offer their own time and energy to assist in land management. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, more than 24,000 hours were logged by our Park Care volunteers in 2020-21—an estimated contribution of over $1 million in in-kind support for the ACT environment. As you can see, planning and land management in the ACT plays a very important role in biodiversity and protecting our threatened species. I thank Minister Vassarotti for bringing this motion to the chamber.

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