Commercial developments in National Parks

Dropbear

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This seems to be an increasing issue for National Parks as public space...

Taming the wild: is the rise in ‘eco-accommodation’ a threat to Australia’s national parks?
https://www.theguardian.com/environ...odation-a-threat-to-australias-national-parks

Eco-tourism researcher Sonya Underdahl says there are few successful examples worldwide of accommodation inside national parks that take a conservation-led approach.

She says while countries like Thailand and China are demolishing luxury resorts and hotels in forests and national parks, Australia is moving in the opposite direction.

“There is no research that supports development in parks. This is now globally being withdrawn,” Underdahl says

“All the other locations [proposing accommodation inside national parks] are generally in developing nations and they’re using it for poverty alleviation and poaching.”

...

Underdahl says leases granted inside Australia’s national parks are often commercial in confidence, meaning there is little transparency over the net benefits of the schemes.

Documents released by the proponents of one Tasmanian eco-tourism proposal in 2020 showed they would pay about $6,000 a year in rent to the state government while planning to charge $4,500 per person per trip.

“Taxpayers often pay for the infrastructure, clearing for the creation of trails [and] quite often, marketing and promotions,” Underdahl says. “So it’s costing taxpayers a lot.”

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Victoria is building new cabins at Mount Buffalo. Such developments can have ‘substantial ecological impacts’, says Griffith University’s Ralf Buckley.
 

currawong

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If the Mt Buffalo cabins referred to are at the chalet, that's different to putting them elsewhere in the park

I agree that in general it's a vexed question. The motivation must not be monetisation of the parks. Allowing a wider range of people to appreciate national parks, and perhaps supporting local economies to some degree are not necessarily bad. Excluding the public so that private enterprise can make a buck is deplorable
 

Xplora

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Some aspects of this have been discussed in the Falls to Hotham crossing thread and that endeavour appears to be going ahead (although slowly). The latest update I received indicated many aspects of the pre planning had been completed. The most recent was a visual impact study that came to the conclusion the new accommodation at Tawonga huts would not have much impact.

This project is being driven by Tourism NE and the Falls/Hotham RMB's. Obviously it has someone onside in Parks Vic. The economic case first put forward was very weak and to achieve the goal put forward (with respect to numbers of people) in the desktop analysis was actually impossible. Maybe not impossible but extremely unlikely. I would have to search back on backed up files but recall something like 20,000 people each year were estimated to do this walk (now) and increasing. That is 13.7 people starting the walk every day of the year at the moment and the plan was to more than double it. These numbers were plucked out of someone's backside and loosely based on Tourism surveys of the NE where X number of people said they liked to go bushwalking. TNE call all the Nth East High Country for marketing purposes. This includes the Murray wineries and all the flat floodplain. A bushwalk does not stipulate multiday. It could be a walk as short as 10 minutes.

My suspicion has always been the RMB's want to extend their clutches to BC and have no interest in the actual walk. Accommodation on the Razorback for people doing the walk up Diamantina spur is proposed but few people will actually do this part of the walk. A tour operator said he would never take his clients up that spur. Essentially it will be provided for people who travel from Hotham and will be serviced by helicopter. Tawonga huts will be serviced by oversnow vehicles or helicopter and will cater for BC tour groups who are happy to pay for some resort comforts like a shower, good food and a nice bed. The greedy buggers tried to kick the scouts out of Rover Chalet when the lease was due for renewal.

There is certainly money in it for some people who rely on the government to do all the heavy lifting. Initially it was thought privateers would pay for the construction but there were no takers. The reality is a private person would not be able to jump through all the planning hoops to get a development approved. Governments don't have the same requirement it appears.

The real agenda has been disguised but can be seen in the documents. Accommodation may be used by people not doing the entire walk or just want to base themselves at one place. If the RMB's had any real interest in the actual walk they would be doing more to support the walk in its current form but they actually do very little. It is a nice walk but not world class. The logistics of the plan are a joke. Day 1 is big, day 2 would see you at camp by morning tea, Day 3 by lunch, Day 4 would kill some people and Day 5 is over by lunch again.

Enough rant.
 
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Dropbear

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The answer is simple. Ensure that parks are adequately funded.

While I agree that decent funding is absolutely necessary, there also needs to be some kind of a standard that defines public interests, and for that line to be robust enough to withstand these sorts of challenges. I don't know what that is though, but all these different schemes being put forward, it seems the system isn't strong enough to repel these flawed and possibly dodgy proposals.
 
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Legs Akimbo

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While I agree that decent funding is absolutely necessary, there also needs to be some kind of a standard that defines public interests, and for that line to be robust enough to withstand these sorts of challenges. I don't know what that is though, but all these different schemes being put forward, it seems the system isn't strong enough to repel these flawed and possibly dodgy proposals.
You mean the interest of the public in getting access to parks? Or the interest in parks deriving enough income to actually run parks? What challenges?
 

Legs Akimbo

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I know it's a quote about journalism, but the line that "what's in the public interest and what interests the public are sadly very different" seems applicable here.
How is it applicable?

Most people defending the integrity" of parks are sure that they should be able to get access. It's those other people that are the problem.
 

Dropbear

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You mean the interest of the public in getting access to parks? Or the interest in parks deriving enough income to actually run parks? What challenges?

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, I'll have another go...

I absolutely agree that parks need enough income to run parks.

But there's probably a wide margin for what constitutes "enough". That could mean having enough for conservation activities, or recreation activities, or both. Some people might be happy seeing parks run on a shoestring, while others might want gold-plated programs and facilities...

Obviously, there's a logical assumption, in that if parks don't have enough income (from public funding), then they could be tempted to source funding from private sources.

Let's for a moment hypothesise a situation where parks did, in fact, have "enough" public funding. Even then, if there's no rules to protect public interests (such as the quality of the public realm, or the public's right of access to parks) - then you could still end up with these public interests being challenged by awful private developments.

As evidence, it appears that seeking additional funding might not be a significant factor in some of these proposals. Why would parks lease away public land for a pittance?

Documents released by the proponents of one Tasmanian eco-tourism proposal in 2020 showed they would pay about $6,000 a year in rent to the state government while planning to charge $4,500 per person per trip.

So I'd argue that parks need decent funding AND better legislative protection.
 

Legs Akimbo

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Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, I'll have another go...

I absolutely agree that parks need enough income to run parks.

But there's probably a wide margin for what constitutes "enough". That could mean having enough for conservation activities, or recreation activities, or both. Some people might be happy seeing parks run on a shoestring, while others might want gold-plated programs and facilities...

Obviously, there's a logical assumption, in that if parks don't have enough income (from public funding), then they could be tempted to source funding from private sources.

Let's for a moment hypothesise a situation where parks did, in fact, have "enough" public funding. Even then, if there's no rules to protect public interests (such as the quality of the public realm, or the public's right of access to parks) - then you could still end up with these public interests being challenged by awful private developments.

As evidence, it appears that seeking additional funding might not be a significant factor in some of these proposals. Why would parks lease away public land for a pittance?



So I'd argue that parks need decent funding AND better legislative protection.
You can hypothesise as much as you want. Currently parks have to find funding from somewhere.

As for rules, I wonder what park administrators do? I haven't looked at the NPWS act, but I suspect that somewhere in there there will be a statement of principles for the management of parks.

Take the recent proposal in Kosciuszko. To read the objections you would think the proposed development was plonked on the last remaining habitat of the corroboree frog. In fact they were proposed for the site of an asbestos contaminated formed SMA township at Island Bend and the wilderness kerbing and guttering of Waste Point.
 

Bogong

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Bear in mind that many of the most interesting and environmentaly worthy areas are not part of national parks. I think anyone who goes bush regularly will acknowledge that. Those really special areas are often special zones of state forests, alpine resorts, regional parks, reference areas, etc. The names vary between states, but you get the idea.

However the term national park has been simplified by the media and now to the broader public often means a precious area, even though a lot of land of fairly low environmental value is included in the bounds of national parks. Politicians (of all varieties) have exploited that over simplified mindset and declared more national parks (usually just before elections) that really don't deserve that status.

So perhaps the discussion shouldn't be about development in national parks, because it doesn't matter too much if degraded crap land within their boudaries is developed. Rather the discussion should be about not harming the really special bits of crown land, no matter what sort of reserve they are allocated to.
 

Dropbear

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Currently parks have to find funding from somewhere.

Agreed. But the solution to these funding issues isn't to sell the parks off.

As for rules, I wonder what park administrators do? I haven't looked at the NPWS act, but I suspect that somewhere in there there will be a statement of principles for the management of parks.

I would like to think that the public servants are acting in the public interest. I have no specific reason to doubt this, as I haven't heard of any biased political stacking in park administration that would corrupt the system. However, when we hear about stacking that has happened elsewhere, such as in the AAT or the ABC Board, this breeds a lack of trust that becomes corrosive...

So I think the problem is higher up, with the politicians who make the rules that the park administrators administer.
 
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Dropbear

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Take the recent proposal in Kosciuszko. To read the objections you would think the proposed development was plonked on the last remaining habitat of the corroboree frog. In fact they were proposed for the site of an asbestos contaminated formed SMA township at Island Bend and the wilderness kerbing and guttering of Waste Point.

Rather than thinking only about the direct spatial impact of a proposed development, what if we look at the development in the broader National Park context?

In theory, a development such as a building could be dropped in via a helicopter and plonked on a rock or a degraded site, and not have much direct impact at all - or at least that's what the proponent will argue in their Statement of Environmental Effects - if that is ever published due to "commercial in confidence"...

...But if that building occupies a highly attractive (albeit not pristine) public space, and if that building is used exclusively by private interests for their private benefit (albeit with some small lease arrangement), then it reduces public access and enjoyment to that space. I think that's where people are coming from with their objections - I know I was.
 

Legs Akimbo

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Rather than thinking only about the direct spatial impact of a proposed development, what if we look at the development in the broader National Park context?

In theory, a development such as a building could be dropped in via a helicopter and plonked on a rock or a degraded site, and not have much direct impact at all - or at least that's what the proponent will argue in their Statement of Environmental Effects - if that is ever published due to "commercial in confidence"...

...But if that building occupies a highly attractive (albeit not pristine) public space, and if that building is used exclusively by private interests for their private benefit (albeit with some small lease arrangement), then it reduces public access and enjoyment to that space. I think that's where people are coming from with their objections - I know I was.
Do you have any clue where Waste Point and Island Bend are?
I would like to think that the public servants are acting in the public interest. I have no specific reason to doubt this, as I haven't heard of any biased political stacking in park administration that would corrupt the system. However, when we hear about stacking that has happened elsewhere, such as in the AAT or the ABC Board, this breeds a lack of trust that becomes corrosive...

So I think the problem is higher up, with the politicians who make the rules that the park administrators administer.
Why not just make up a problem?
Agreed. But the solution to these funding issues isn't to sell the parks off.
I haven't seen any ads on realestate.com. Are you sure you're not catastrophising?
 
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currawong

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Do you have any clue where Waste Point and Island Bend are?
island bend may not be pristine alpine habitat but it's a camping option for the skier on a budget. if private facilities were to curtail that, it would be a problem irrespective of how degraded the site is.

NFI if there is a plan to curtail camping. but restricting free access seems to go hand in hand with a lot of private initiatives
 

Xplora

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Then come up with an idea about how to fund national parks.
I doubt revenue would be enough to fund much. Maybe another helicopter dunny transfer. It appears a token gesture and not commensurate with the value or benefit to the privateer. How many jobs does it create? Huge number I'll bet. Eight or nine. Planning and construction will account for a massive amount of spend. An EIS is not cheap. Architectural design and all the fancy consultant fees. Big industry before a sod gets turned or even a development approved. Change of government or direction and the whole thing could get scrapped.
 
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Legs Akimbo

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Public funding? That was easy. Now in the real world...
island bend may not be pristine alpine habitat but it's a camping option for the skier on a budget. if private facilities were to curtail that, it would be a problem irrespective of how degraded the site is.

NFI if there is a plan to curtail camping. but restricting free access seems to go hand in hand with a lot of private initiatives
the Tassie example of $6K annual rent is going to do SFA for park funding
I don't think glamping sites should close off free access. To my mind it's pretty simple. Parks need the bucks.

If the rent really is $6k that's a ripoff, but I wonder if there are other sources of income like a share of whatever the punters pay, like the Skitube model. I don't know. Nor does anyone else.
I doubt revenue would be enough to fund much. Maybe another helicopter dunny transfer. It appears a token gesture and not commensurate with the value or benefit to the privateer. How many jobs does it create? Huge number I'll bet. Eight or nine. Planning and construction will account for a massive amount of spend. An EIS is not cheap. Architectural design and all the fancy consultant fees. Big industry before a sod gets turned or even a development approved. Change of government or direction and the whole thing could get scrapped.
I love hypotheticals. The fees will, presumably, be paid by the private organisation as will construction costs.
 

Xplora

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I love hypotheticals. The fees will, presumably, be paid by the private organisation as will construction costs.
But to use the Falls to Hotham example, these fees are being paid by the government. Some money in the last budget was allocated to this work and recall it around the $15M mark. This was also to go toward track maintenance on the existing track but lets see how much is swallowed up in consultant fees. It has been many years since conception and so far no EIS, no economic statement but lots of design work and glossy brochures.
 

Legs Akimbo

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But to use the Falls to Hotham example, these fees are being paid by the government. Some money in the last budget was allocated to this work and recall it around the $15M mark. This was also to go toward track maintenance on the existing track but lets see how much is swallowed up in consultant fees. It has been many years since conception and so far no EIS, no economic statement but lots of design work and glossy brochures.
That's just dumb.
 

Telemark Phat

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KNP has more funding at the moment than its had in more than 20 years. But it's all project based so could evaporate quickly.

Degraded sites exist, however infrastructure, especially accommodation has an impact far beyond the building site. Access and waste disposal are required. Hydrology is altered and increased visitation creates more disturbance for native species. Increased visitation also increases the introduction of invasive species including weeds and pest animals.

Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, we can afford to adequately fund our parks.
 
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Snow Blowey

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My suggestion would be to delist many of the newer parks that were previously state forests. Were converted to NP purely for politcal reasons.
 
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teletripper

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My suggestion would be to delist many of the newer parks that were previously state forests. Were converted to NP purely for politcal reasons.
What you need to remember is that most National Parks, Nature or conservation Reserves that were declared and gazetted in NSW were crown lands that no one else wanted. They were the ‘scraps‘ left over areas that had little value for agriculture, forestry, residential development etc., regarded during that period (1940’s to the 1990’s) to be too rugged and beyond development. ( KNP is a bit of an exception on this thus the ongoing grazing debate) There actual ‘conservation‘ value was a lesser factor in their reservation. It was not until the 1990’s which the CAR (comprehensive/ adequate/ representative) reserve system approach was adopted that the real conservation value of those state forests became apparent:
CAR reserve system
 

Bogong

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National parks should be funded by our taxes and tourist infrastructure should be kept to a minimum, anything else is Wallyworld
Yeah, but what if "National" parks are on rubbish land that only got that status because some dodgy politians thought that declaring a certain number of national parks would create a feel good factor amongst city dwellers who really have no idea and never visit?

I grew up in a gold town next to a hilly area where all the top soil was sluiced away during the gold rush. Today there is about half a centimetre of top soil formed in the last 160 years on top of the rocks. So while some trees have taken root in the cracks between the rocks and a few ambitious shrubs have managed to grow in the marginal top soil, it is not land that would raise enthusiasm amongst even the most keen botanists.

Anyway a few election cycles ago this land, which is worthless for nature preservation, farming or even forestry, was declared a national park. Now it could perhaps, maybe, possibly have sufficient value to scrape in as a historic park, but calling it a national park is utterly preposterous. Do people really think it is worthy of the same respect and funding as valuable areas that really should be preserved? :rolleyes:

Of course not. If anyone wants to develop that land it should be welcomed, so long as the money raised is spent on more worthy ecological projects that are deprived of funding at the moment.
 

teletripper

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And lots of the 1990’s ones were State Forests. Probably cheaper to have a Park than a State Forest for government (I’ve no idea, just spitballing).
It was both this, a political decision because it was believed to be cheaper to ‘lock it up‘ and do nothing, ( a poor management decision in the long run as even management for conservation costs money) but also as part of the the Regional Forestry Agreement and assessment processes that it became apparent that many of these State Forest Areas had high conservation values that probably should of been part of the National Park estate in the first place. For example most high quality koala habitat was in State Forests or private lands on rich fertile high nutrient flood plains areas subject to residential / agricultural development pressure, not in National parks. Most koala habitat in NP’ s pre 90’s was sub optimal habitat. Thus the mess of a legacy of koala conservation we have today.
 

Ramshead

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"Wilderness is arguably the world’s fastest-disappearing natural resource. Wilderness has a problem: it’s priceless, and yet its value on the market is almost nothing." - Bob Brown

Brown also believes the term "wilderness lodge" is a non-sequitur. Same could also be said for eco-lodge and the rest of the euphemisms for developments, no matter how minor and un-intrusive, in the best bits of the back country. The minute it's a lodge, it ain't eco anymore
 

Chookfooter

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And lots of the 1990’s ones were State Forests. Probably cheaper to have a Park than a State Forest for government (I’ve no idea, just spitballing).
It also has a bit to do with corporate culture and purpose. Forestry has a responsibility to chop it down and send it off Japan as woodchips, if they have land not suited to their purposes that is just left in its natural state they don't have the expertise or inclination to manage it, so it makes sense to have the NPWS to look after it because they do.
 

Xplora

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Forestry has a responsibility to chop it down and send it off Japan as woodchips
Doesn't happen like it used to but I understand what you are saying. Woodchip is still exported but sourced mostly from plantations (93% in 2018) and saw mill residue and the like.
 
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Xplora

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Yes, I accept that, it was just an example. The point is the Forestry is not a conservation organisation.
Precisely the point. Once the loggers are finished with an area it may still have considerable conservation value though. Errinundra for example. Governments are under pressure to declare more national park and the obvious areas are old forests where logging is no longer viable but there are examples of old agricultural land being bought because of a significant conservation aspect. It makes sense to convert some forest to national park but not all and I don't see all forests being converted to parks in Victoria. Once it is National park there are a swathe of restrictions that affect the recreation and use of the area (depending on the zoning). Hunting could be prohibited and this would place a greater onus on the land manager to control pests (although hunting has been shown to be the least effective way of pest control). There are other activities such as fossicking that could be prohibited.

Zoning of parks in Victoria is like a grading system and is designed to restrict activity (including development, roads, tracks etc.) in some areas. The Falls to Hotham plan carefully skirted zones where new buildings would be prohibited. Ryders hut area is just outside the planned area and its zoning prohibits new buildings. Probably why no toilet has been built there. Tawonga huts area is in a different zone that allows some development.
 
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Dropbear

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"Wilderness is arguably the world’s fastest-disappearing natural resource. Wilderness has a problem: it’s priceless, and yet its value on the market is almost nothing." - Bob Brown

Brown also believes the term "wilderness lodge" is a non-sequitur. Same could also be said for eco-lodge and the rest of the euphemisms for developments, no matter how minor and un-intrusive, in the best bits of the back country. The minute it's a lodge, it ain't eco anymore

Perhaps, if there is a flaw in Brown's lament, it's that "value" can only be appreciated in the context of the "market". So when he adopts this language of capitalism, he inadvertently highlights the limitations of an old-school environmental argument: that we should conserve our environment even though this would be against our own commercial interests. So while I have great respect for Brown's contributions over his career, this quote sounds like it's not framed very constructively.

Of course, the problem with any commercial use of sensitive environments is that these activities tend to consume the resource, and are therefore unsustainable. Mining and forestry strip the land. "Wilderness lodges" are often proposed in the most beautiful of places, and each of these places can only be leased once, and to the exclusion of the public. So in the world of commercial interests, we can only profit from the degradation of our environment until it is denuded, at which point we all become impoverished.

Hopefully, and especially after the last federal election, we can consider this question of "value" a bit more holistically.

National Parks aren't priceless. They are places we can we can enjoy while improving our physical and mental health, and our connection with Country. Their ecological and biodiversity values help cool and enliven our planet. They are also vital for our national image and productivity (forget "where the bloody hell are ya?" and think more "100% pure NZ") and our local economies outside parks (like in Jindabyne). So parks are essential to our wellbeing, and we need to value them as such.
 

Telemark Phat

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Perhaps, if there is a flaw in Brown's lament, it's that "value" can only be appreciated in the context of the "market". So when he adopts this language of capitalism, he inadvertently highlights the limitations of an old-school environmental argument: that we should conserve our environment even though this would be against our own commercial interests. So while I have great respect for Brown's contributions over his career, this quote sounds like it's not framed very constructively.

Of course, the problem with any commercial use of sensitive environments is that these activities tend to consume the resource, and are therefore unsustainable. Mining and forestry strip the land. "Wilderness lodges" are often proposed in the most beautiful of places, and each of these places can only be leased once, and to the exclusion of the public. So in the world of commercial interests, we can only profit from the degradation of our environment until it is denuded, at which point we all become impoverished.

Hopefully, and especially after the last federal election, we can consider this question of "value" a bit more holistically.

National Parks aren't priceless. They are places we can we can enjoy while improving our physical and mental health, and our connection with Country. Their ecological and biodiversity values help cool and enliven our planet. They are also vital for our national image and productivity (forget "where the bloody hell are ya?" and think more "100% pure NZ") and our local economies outside parks (like in Jindabyne). So parks are essential to our wellbeing, and we need to value them as such.
What Brown said is entirely correct. Markets are very limited in what they can value. Things like wilderness, or national security where property rights can't be valued are failed by markets to properly asses their value and assign resources to them.
 
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Dropbear

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What Brown said is entirely correct. Markets are very limited in what they can value. Things like wilderness, or national security where property rights can't be valued are failed by markets to properly asses their value and assign resources to them.

Yep, but I didn't say it wasn't correct, only that it might not be a very constructive argument to make (although I'm sure that this quote would have been in the context of a broader argument of Brown's that escapes us here). Anyway, if the market system is too narrowly focused, then we can't improve the situation when it comes to parks without improving the system.
 
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Xplora

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There is another argument for privatisation and exclusive access which I could put forward with the caveat I do not wholly support it. Some places are getting loved to death and restrictions could restore some balance. Restrictions could come in the form of payment for services with the bonus of reduced numbers. It may be better to be forward looking and put the restrictions on early as it will upset many people who would want to enjoy it for nothing or in a more simplified version.

There would also be some areas where the sheer number of visitors puts an unreal strain on the ecology of the area and development could take away some of that strain. This could be in the form of more formalised tracks (as in the new iconic snowies walk) which would prevent erosion and discourage off track walking.

There is also some argument for deliberate sacrifice of an area for the numb nut punter or casual user. My problem starts when privateers decide volume is more important and decisions are made based on economics more than environment. Then we get into competing development. By this I mean each development must have a draw card that makes it more attractive to punters. They all want to be called 'iconic' and I am just sick of that term. They all want to market the product as internationally recognised or compare it to existing walks or offers.

Tourism is big business and governments need business to generate income. We know rental income would not amount to much but the ancillary money that flows into government revenue may make privatising parks attractive. Jobs created to some degree, tax revenue, revenue from fuel purchase. This all adds up and keeps governments ticking along. How many people visit Jindy each year? That must go a long way to supporting this small town which may not have the level of services it currently enjoys without that spending.

It is a complex problem and I must admit to being a little vexed by it. At what point do we stand up to try and stop things? What level of acceptance should there be?
 

Dropbear

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There is another argument for privatisation and exclusive access which I could put forward with the caveat I do not wholly support it. Some places are getting loved to death and restrictions could restore some balance. Restrictions could come in the form of payment for services with the bonus of reduced numbers. It may be better to be forward looking and put the restrictions on early as it will upset many people who would want to enjoy it for nothing or in a more simplified version.

There would also be some areas where the sheer number of visitors puts an unreal strain on the ecology of the area and development could take away some of that strain. This could be in the form of more formalised tracks (as in the new iconic snowies walk) which would prevent erosion and discourage off track walking.

There is also some argument for deliberate sacrifice of an area for the numb nut punter or casual user. My problem starts when privateers decide volume is more important and decisions are made based on economics more than environment. Then we get into competing development. By this I mean each development must have a draw card that makes it more attractive to punters. They all want to be called 'iconic' and I am just sick of that term. They all want to market the product as internationally recognised or compare it to existing walks or offers.

Tourism is big business and governments need business to generate income. We know rental income would not amount to much but the ancillary money that flows into government revenue may make privatising parks attractive. Jobs created to some degree, tax revenue, revenue from fuel purchase. This all adds up and keeps governments ticking along. How many people visit Jindy each year? That must go a long way to supporting this small town which may not have the level of services it currently enjoys without that spending.

It is a complex problem and I must admit to being a little vexed by it. At what point do we stand up to try and stop things? What level of acceptance should there be?

I understand where you're coming from, but think this issue needs a more considered framing of 'what are the problems' so that we can then explore 'what are the solutions' in a more appropriate way.

In this case, the problem is not the high amounts of visitation per se, but unsustainable visitation in specific places that creates negative impacts. Keep in mind that in theory, if visitation can be done sustainably, then it's a positive outcome if more people can enjoy healthy activities while gaining a better appreciation for the value and the fragility of the environment. And when more people appreciate parks to a higher degree, more people will be supportive of decent funding for parks.

To illustrate: tax has a pretty clear fundamental principle - tax the things you want to discourage and support the things you want to encourage.

Likewise, the principle for the Snowies Walk is a good one - Koscisuzko summit is getting too busy, so let's not discourage people from visiting the Snowies by charging more fees. Instead, let's just spread people out more and on better quality infrastructure.

Similarly, in Sydney, the Bay Run is getting a bit busy, so they're now talking about a second one around Hen and Chicken Bay.

So I agree that we shouldn't be trying to position any single track to be "iconic". But if our recreation opportunities can be of higher quality and more equally distributed for more people to access, then the pressure on any one place can be reduced, and both us and our environment will be all the healthier for it.
 

Dropbear

One of Us
Aug 4, 2010
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...And the other thing we need is a national population plan. While we do need to do our bit to help refugees, continuing with a "big Australia" approach in the ongoing absence of any robust planning would continue to see our parks degraded, because there's no way we could continue to satisfy that kind of demand.
 

Xplora

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 7, 2015
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Perhaps I just see this anecdotally but governments tend to solve problems reactionary instead of proactively. Wait until it is a problem and then find a solution. You might say this is justified as there may not be a problem to fix but there is not enough thought put into the problems associated with this type of development. The simple act of sealing a road to provide a seemingly safer access can and has had serious negative effects. No deaths on the dirt road ever to a national blackspot in less than 5 years for Bogong High Plains Road. This had nothing to do with commercial development of parks but such things may require upgrades to road infrastructure to allow for the increased traffic. Decisions are economically based and this is a real problem.

Part of my submission for the Falls to Hotham walk included upgrades to the existing road to make it safer to carry the projected increase in traffic. Even without the walk this road needs work. Widening for starters and better drainage but that encourages motorbikes which are responsible for all but one fatality and all but two serious crashes.
 
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