The Western Australian government has released its new plan to create five million hectares of new national and marine parks and reserves over the coming five years, increasing the state’s parkland by 20 per cent.
Premier Mark McGowan and State Minister for the Environment Stephen Dawson announced the plan earlier this month, which will see new and expanded parks from the Kimberley in the north, across WA's Midwest rangelands, through areas from Perth to Bunbury, to the South-West forests and a potential new marine park along the southern coastline.
Key priorities include a marine park system that protects a wide variety of important ecosystems and marine life along WA’s coastline. Marine parks will be created in the Buccaneer Archipelago in the Kimberley and the Perth metropolitan area.
The Recherche Archipelago and Stokes Inlet, and their surrounding waters, have also been identified in previous marine planning processes. These areas are known for their high conservation value and will be considered for reservation as a marine park for multiple purposes, including conservation.
"This is a bold plan that will increase our conservation estate by about 20 per cent over the next five years. This is the biggest single increase in conservation estate in Western Australia's history and one of the biggest in the nation,” Mr McGowan said.
Mr McGowan said that the expansion plan will create more opportunities for Aboriginal joint management and on-country jobs, and provide conservation and nature-based tourism benefits.
"Plan for Our Parks will complement our successful Aboriginal Ranger Program by providing more opportunities for traditional owners to jointly manage country, and creating more jobs in regional and remote Western Australia,” Mr McGowan said.
The government has launched a consultation process to work traditional owners, the resources sector, pastoralists, commercial and recreational fishers, conservation groups, local government and other key stakeholders and interest holders.