Call to action to protect parkland before crisis
19 May 2008
Call to action to protect parkland before crisis hits
Urban spread, climate change, loss of species, financial crises, food and water crises and increasing challenges from invasive species are just some of the issues that could profoundly affect our ability to sustain our world’s parks and natural systems.
Park managers from around the world will gather in Auckland this week to debate and discuss the issues that could threaten the availability of parkland and open space in the future.
The Parks Forum, made up of member agencies from across Australia and New Zealand, is holding its biennial conference ‘A world without parks?’ at Auckland’s National Maritime Museum from Tuesday 20 to Thursday 21 May.
At the conference, Minister of Conservation Steve Chadwick will launch a new report prepared by Parks Forum, together with IUCN-World Commission on Protected Areas and The People and Parks Foundation on the value of parks to society.
Parks Forum CEO David Clarke says the new document, ‘The value of parks’, underlines the immense value of parks to communities – not only in terms of sustaining the environment, but also in terms of bring economic value to the community, reflecting our national culture and bringing significant community health benefits.
“The greatest single asset that New Zealand has got is its beautiful environment and it is under threat.
“Large healthy parks provide safe havens for species by protecting vital habitat and helping them to retain their natural resilience to rapid climatic changes. They also frequently contain large areas of native forests which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Our parks are insurance for our future. Ensuring we sustain healthy parks systems isn’t a question for debate amongst environmentalists, pastoralists and politicians – it’s an issue for everyone. Their importance will only increase with time as the stresses of urbanisation, population growth and climate change impact on our societies,” he says.
Mr Clarke says this year’s conference allows parks agencies to look forward to the future, to anticipate the great challenges that impact upon our parks and natural environment, and how these must be sustained to ensure healthy communities.
“Imagining a world without parks may seem unlikely, but when we think hard about some of the issues our society is facing in the coming decades, there is a genuine need to start working now to plan for the future, to ensure we can sustain healthy park systems.
“We are all experiencing pressure on open space. Urban sprawl, population growth and rezoning for food production is all impacting upon our natural environment. What we need now, for the sake of our children and generations to come, is a significant investment of funds in parks and open space provision.
“Climate change is also an issue which won’t go away, and will have profound impacts around the world. As countries with a commitment to working towards a carbon neutral future, how we manage our natural assets is going to make all the difference.
“The New Zealand Government is dealing with major climate change legislation issues at the moment. The health of our parks is a crucial part of how we can buffer against some of these issues,” he says.
The conference will be working together on the production of the first parks industry agenda for Australia and New Zealand. This agenda provides the chance to work together for the first time across state, regional and national boundaries, in the pursuit of more effective way to support our parks.