Page 3285 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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Indigenous rangers within the parks and conservation service have been engaged early in the design process, and further and wider engagement with the Indigenous community will occur. Opportunities for employment, business development, storytelling and meeting places for the Indigenous community have been identified in the early engagement processes.

A focus on ecotourism, including at Mulligans Flat, supports our tourism 2020 strategy by enhancing the tourism offering for visitors already coming to Canberra as well as attracting new visitors. ACT parks and conservation is working closely with VisitCanberra to align our marketing strategies and ensure the greatest reach for our unique nature-based tourism opportunities.

The Murrumbidgee River corridor sees well in excess of a million domestic and international visitors per annum, with at least 300,000 enjoying the famous Cotter reserve. Tidbinbilla nature reserve enjoys a strong visitation of over 200,000 people, with increasing visitation from embassy facilitated groups from India and China, as well as a strong uptake of ranger-guided activities by domestic and international school groups.

The ACT government is growing existing nature-based assets and experiences, as well as identifying new partnerships and community engagement opportunities. This includes the healthy country program, which is a new section of parks and conservation dedicated to initiating activities that educate the community.

The Canberra community walks the walk in caring for our environment and amplifies our government’s commitment to natural resource management by contributing over 22,000 hours of volunteer effort each year. On-ground work by park carers this year has included significant efforts in weed eradication, revegetation of degraded natural sites, fencing sensitive environmental areas and carrying out flora and fauna surveys with new digital tools such as the collector app.

In conclusion, people are a part of, impact on and benefit significantly from our natural environment. Canberrans enjoy our wildlife, trees, and walking and riding through our natural areas. Canberrans are avid volunteers, and places like Mulligans Flat sanctuary are strongly supported by the ACT government. Our natural environment is unique and valued by the people of Canberra. It is helping to grow the ACT’s international reputation as a sustainable city and provides many opportunities to diversify our economy through ecotourism.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (5.49): Canberrans are rightly proud of our beautiful bush capital. As our city grows, we must work hard to protect our environment and provide opportunities for everyone to connect with our beautiful natural places. We know that the protection of water, air and biodiversity is essential for the wellbeing of the planet and also for all of us as the human species. Degradation of catchments and global warming are impacting on the quality and amounts of available water. Habitat loss caused by humans and the spread of invasive species is a further major threat to biodiversity.

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