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National Parks Association critical of MP’s forestry claims

Conservationists have rejected claims from a north coast MP that National Parks do not create monetary benefit for the North Coast. Source: ABC News

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser criticised the level of funding for national parks, while speaking on potential job losses in the Forestry Corporation.

He said a downturn in the building industry is one reason for a restructure of the Corporation’s Native Hardwood Division that will see jobs go across the state.

Fraser said another reason for the Corporation’s budget problems is the amount of state forest now absorbed into National Parks.

“We’ve had thousands of jobs lost in the last 10 years in forestry on the north coast of NSW and mills closing and resources not being available,” he said.

“It’s a process that will undergo government oversight over the next three or four months.

“The exact effect at this stage I don’t know.

“It’s something that I don’t like especially when we have huge dollars being spent on National parks but no return in any real sense coming from them.”

But the President of the National Parks Association, (NPA) Kevin Evans, said National Parks are an enormous economic driver for the region.

“Really the evidence has been out for years that rural economies, regional economies, especially in northern NSW have an enormous contribution to their economies from being in close proximity to national parks and reserves,” he said.

“Not just from ecotourism, but also indirect contributions.

“It really runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of the direct economic benefit of the reserve system that we have in Australia.

“NSW has an extraordinary reserve system with thousands of areas that are not just providing enormous economic benefit to the community, but are protecting our finite and ever increasingly threatened species.”