Parks funding gap sparks bushfire fears

Parks funding gap sparks bushfire fears

14 November 2012

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Australia– A Parliamentary inquiry has found Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service is struggling to meet its legislative requirements due to a severe lack of funding.

The Legislative Council committee’s chairwoman, Tania Rattray says Parks and Wildlife receives only two thirds of the funding it needs.

She says it means infrastructure is not being properly maintained and the bushfire threat is increasing.

Ms Rattray says Sunday’s bushfire at Zeehan is a case in point.

“There have been no controlled burns undertaken by Parks and Wildlife because of budget cuts, then we have additional fuel,” she said.

Committee member, Tony Mulder, says tourism is suffering.

“[It’s] supposed to be our economic saviour.”

West coast mayor Darryl Gerrity says a lack of fuel reduction burn-offs by the State Government contributed to the Zeehan emergency.

He says bush around the town is overgrown and is making residents nervous about the coming bushfire season.

The Environment Minister, Brian Wightman, says he has not had time to fully consider the report, but he believes Parks and Wildlife is meeting its necessary obligations.

Budget papers show Parks and Wildlife received $45.5 million this year, about $4 million less than the year before.
Reserve funding

Mrs Rattray also does not believe there is enough funding to manage any additional reserves negotiated under a forest peace deal.

She says it could not possibly manage additional reserves without a substantial increase in funding.

“Parks and Wildlife Service is currently funded at approximately $10 per hectare for its core management responsibilities and the evidence the committee received suggests that $16 per hectare would be a more appropriate level of funding.”



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