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Queensland needs more protected habitat

When I grew up in the 1960s watching Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was part of my weekly ritual. Skippy could play the piano, tie knots and even operate a two-way radio. But even a kangaroo as clever as Skippy could not prevent the ongoing extinction of wild animals like her.

In the time since Skippy became an international superstar the world has witnessed a biodiversity crisis. Species extinction is estimated to be 100 to 1000 times as fast as any time in the past. The main cause of extinction is habitat destruction. “At the current rate of habitat destruction it is estimated that within the next 100 years or so about half of the world's existing species may be extinct,” according to the Queensland Museum.

Despite Skippy’s intelligence and skill, she can’t prevent habitat destruction on her own. That’s why the United Nations is launching the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration tomorrow on World Environment Day. The UN Environment Program wants us to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. They have set a target of 30% of the world’s land and oceans being protected by 2030.

In 2015, the Queensland Government said that it aimed to have 17% of the state in a protected area. Right now just over eight per cent of Queensland is in a national park, nature refuge, resource reserve or special wildlife reserve. That’s the lowest rate of protection in Australia. At the current level of funding, it will take about 120 years to reach the goal.

If we are going to prevent the loss of half of the world’s species, we must to do more than plod along. We must act now to protect habitat that wildlife depends on. It really is a race against time.

Half of the $23 billion in tourism revenue that comes into Queensland each year depends on our magnificent national parks. National parks are responsible for more than $1 billion in GST revenue each year for Queensland. Yet we only spend about $7 million per on purchasing new properties to become part of the national park system. That number has to increase to more like $50 million every year.

Skippy would appreciate your help. You can do that by calling your local state MP today and letting them know that you want the Queensland budget to include some serious funding for national park purchase and management.

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