It's been a tough year for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in different ways and we cannot ignore that, but it's Christmas! So, I thought I'd share some of the positive news and big milestones we've achieved together for WA national parks in 2020.
WA falls in love with the Outback again as borders open!
COVID-19 affected everyone and every industry, even our national parks, with people unable to visit their favourite camping and hiking spots at a time when we needed them most.
In May, WA national parks reopened, with an influx of people from across the state wanting to wander out yonder, renewing the love we have for our Outback.
Travel restrictions encouraged us all to re-discover WA's Outback gems and explore the beauty in our own backyard, with parts of the state flooded by holidaymakers.
Natures Window, Kalbarri National Park
Green Jobs funding announced
In July, the McGowan Government announced a $60.3 million in funding to invest in environmental projects, creating more than 1000 conservation jobs State-wide as part of the WA Recovery Plan.
The funding will support projects that will protect our environment and create jobs, of which $15 million has been allocated to set up a Native Vegetation Rehabilitation Scheme.
Yamatji Nation Indigenous Land Use Agreement registered
In August, one of Australia’s most significant native title agreements, the Yamatji Nation Indigenous Land Use Agreement, was registered.
The announcement was a historic milestone for Indigenous people in the Mid West and a big step forward in creating more national parks for WA.
This includes over 400,000 acres of new national parks and reserves that will be jointly managed with the Yamatji Nation. These are the former Kadji Kadji, Lochada, Karara and Barnong pastoral leases.
The agreement also includes funding for at least 13 Aboriginal rangers to work on parks across the Mid West. This means more jobs and better cultural and conservation outcomes for the region.
WA Government announces extra $25.6 mill for national parks
In October, the WA Government announced the 2020-21 State Budget, with an additional $25.6 million added to Plan for Our Parks initiative to create more national parks and improve existing infrastructure at WA national parks.
The Heart of Our Outback Exhibition launch
Photographer Kingsley Klau, Pew Charitable Trusts WA manager Tim Nicol, Partnership for the Outback coordinator Linda Goncalves and Track Care WA vice chair Graham Weber at The Heart of Our Outback exhibition launch.
Ningaloo coastal reserves created
In early December, the WA Government announced almost 50,000 hectares of new conservation and recreation reserve had been created along the Ningaloo Coast.
The newly established conservation land is part of Plan for Our Parks initiative and will be jointly managed by Traditional Owners from Nganhurra Thanardi Garrbu Aboriginal Corporation (NTGAC) and The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' Parks and Wildlife Service.
Buccaneer Archipelago a big step closer to protection
Also in December, the WA Government released their draft plans for marine parks over the Kimberley’s Buccaneer Archipelago. This is a major milestone for the Bardi Jawi, Mayala and Dambimangari Traditional Owners of the area, who have worked alongside government to design these new marine parks. The public consultation period is open until May 2021, and we'll be working to ensure the important coral reefs and cultural areas are protected in the final plans for the marine parks.
Fitzroy River National Park
Just before Christmas, Bunuba Traditional Owners signed agreements with the WA Government for the creation of the Fitzroy River National Park. The historic signing will protect culture and the environment and create economic and employment opportunities for the local community. It follows decades of work by many in the community to stop proposals to dam the Fitzroy River at Dimond Gorge. This major milestone was achieved despite aggressive opposition from irrigation interests pushing against the creation of the National Park.
Bunuba Traditional Owners and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson at the historic signing for the proposed Fitzroy River National Park.
2020 has been a year like no other, but despite all the challenges and with support from excellent supporters like you, we have continued to achieve great things for our environment and national parks in WA.
Next year, we hope to see the creation of new national parks for us all to enjoy.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to working with you in 2021!