Major property purchase to become Queensland’s newest national park
Published Saturday, 05 February, 2022 at 11:05 AM
Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon
A massive, stunningly beautiful former grazing property will soon belong to Queenslanders as the state’s newest national park.
“The Lakes”, north of Hughenden, will increase Queensland’s protected area estate by 35,300 hectares, with the Palaszczuk Government now finalising the multi-million-dollar purchase.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said it was the largest acquisition yet undertaken under Queensland’s Protected Area Strategy 2020-2030, a major plan to support the growth and management of our national parks and other protected areas.
“This purchase will ensure the future preservation of valuable, undisturbed ecosystems and habitat that will link up to an existing network of protected areas in the region,” Minister Scanlon said.
“As it transitions into a national park, we will also explore ways to make it accessible for visitors who will definitely want to experience the incredible lakes, birdlife and walks for themselves,” Minister Scanlon said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is investing $28 million over four years for public protected area expansion with more than 14 million hectares across Queensland now protected in some way.
“Careful negotiations are currently underway on other high-quality properties as I am determined to increase our protected areas to deliver a world-class protected area system for our state.”
Minister Scanlon said “The Lakes” straddles the Great Dividing Range and is within the Einasleigh Uplands and Gulf Plains Bioregions.
“These regions have plains, woodlands, escarpments, creeks, and unique high-altitude lakes that support a wide range of important flora and fauna,” Minister Scanlon said.
“This acquisition will also protect the headwaters of the South Gregory River which feeds into the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
“Importantly, these lands are part of the Gudjala First Nations peoples’ traditional country.
“As part of the process to dedicate the land as protected area, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will engage with Gudjala First Nations peoples’ and look to provide opportunities for involvement in land conservation and indigenous cultural heritage management.”
Ms Scanlon said the purchase price was commercial-in-confidence but thanks to the work of The Nature Conservancy Australia, the Queensland Government received financial support to enable the purchase.
“The Department of Environment and Science (DES) was first approached by The Nature Conservancy proposing a joint protected area acquisition with The Wyss Foundation (a private US charitable foundation) in late 2019,” Minister Scanlon said.
“The department and The Nature Conservancy worked hard to secure the land, with the Wyss Foundation committing up to $US1.829 million to the purchase.”
Dr James Fitzsimons, Director of Conservation and Science for The Nature Conservancy Australia, said the purchase of The Lakes by the Queensland Government was a great achievement for conservation, not only in Queensland, but also in Australia.
“This property presents significant conservation values with a number of priority ecosystems and species,” Dr Fitzsimons said.
“It also offers high value for resilience to climate change which is critical for biodiversity protection.”
Molly McUsic, President of The Wyss Foundation, said the foundation was proud to support the efforts of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and the Queensland Government in working to protect, manage, and sustain wildlife and wild places.
“The purchase and protection of these incredible properties illustrates how local communities across Australia are contributing to the global goals of protecting the Earth’s lands and oceans,” Ms McUsic said.
Images and footage of The Lakes can be found here Dropbox link