The Great Koala National Park (GKNP) would deliver 9,000+ jobs for the Coffs Coast, according to an analysis of the proposal by the University of Newcastle released today.
The research examined the economic impact of the GKNP over the next 15 years estimating expenditure across three stages: park establishment, park management and visitor expenditure.
In what would be Australia’s first national park for koalas, the proposal is projected to generate $2.8 billion in value. This landmark study has projected additional national economic output of $1.2 billion over the next 15 years and $1.7 billion in biodiversity value.
Spokesperson for the Great Koala National Park Steering Committee, Kevin Evans, said “the research demonstrated that the Great Koala National Park would make a significant contribution to the NSW economy and be a major job boost for the Mid-North Coast region just when it is so desperately needed.”
“The Coffs Coast region has stubbornly high unemployment, so it is heartening to see that the impact on jobs in our region was a major focus of the study. The research found that the Park would generate more than 9,000 extra full-time equivalent jobs across tourism, infrastructure, and science and education, equating to $330 million in additional wages in the region,” Kevin Evans said.
The report included employment projections as forestry related jobs are transitioned over a 10-year period to park management and restoration through a government funded transition plan. We fully support a government funded industry transition”, he said.
“The Coffs Coast tourism economy would benefit significantly with the study estimating that the Great Koala National Park would increase visitors to the region by an additional 1 million per annum who will spend $412 million,” he said.
“Koala numbers have been decimated by 71% in northern NSW from last summers catastrophic bushfires. Along with habitat loss (from clearing and logging), drought, and disease our iconic Koala could become extinct in NSW by 2050 without decisive action,” Kevin Evans said
“The study suggests that the biodiversity value of the koala is $530 million for the NSW population and $1.7 billion for all Australians based on estimates of the community’s willingness to pay for their preservation.”
“The science that underpins the GKNP proposal has been verified by the NSW Governments own review. There is widespread community support for the proposal. The urgency for State and Federal Governments to act to protect Koala is in no doubt, after the black summer bushfires that killed thousands of Koalas. Now this report proves the economic benefits that will result if the GKNP is created. All we need now is for the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, to intervene and live up to her promise that she will be the Premier that saves our Koala for future generations,“ said Mr Evans.
What is the Great Koala National Park?
The proposed Great Koala National Park will add 175,000 hectares of native state forests to existing protected areas to establish a 315,000-hectare reserve on the NSW Mid North Coast. The new park would protect an area that is home to around 20 per cent of the NSW koala population.
The GKNP proposal was initiated by conservation groups here on the mid north coast who commissioned an independent scientific assessment by a qualified ecologist (David Scotts) to identify the public native forests that would need to be protected if we are to avoid koala extinction.
The NSW government conducted their own review of the GKNP proposal that confirmed this analysis that the koala populations of the mid north coast are nationally important. The NSW Upper House Inquiry into Koala habitat also stated that the GKNP “has great merit”.
NSW already obtains over 85% of its timber requirements from plantation sources. An investment in expanding this resource should be considered a priority.
For more information visit the Great Koala National Park website: www.gknp.org
The Great Koala National Park campaign is run by an alliance of community organisations:
• National Parks Association of NSW
• Nambucca Valley Conservation Association (nvca.org.au)
• Bellingen Environment Centre