$30 million Budget boost for national parks a win for wildlife, biodiversity and visitors

SA Gov

South Australia’s increasingly popular national parks have received a $30 million funding boost in the 2024-25 State Budget so they remain a vital haven for wildlife and biodiversity, and to improve visitor experiences.

The funding boost means new trails and other infrastructure can proceed at recently opened parks such as Nilpena Ediacara NP and Glenthorne NP, and the yet to be opened Worlds End Gorge NP near Burra.

It will also ensure that internationally recognised sites like Cleland Wildlife Park and Naracoorte Caves can continue to offer worldclass visitor experiences.

An extra $10 million will go towards the continued funding of 20 park rangers, who play a lead role in managing landscapes and protecting important ecosystems. This funding makes up the shortfall left by the previous Liberal government that appointed new rangers without providing the funding for them over the forward estimates.

The 2024-25 State Budget also includes an extra $20 million over the next four years for improved services across SA’s network of more than 350 national parks and reserves, which provide environmental, social and economic prosperity for the state.

In the Mount Lofty Ranges, $1M will be spent to bring heathland and grassy woodland birds back following years of habitat loss and changes in the landscape.

Other projects include:

  • New guided tours of world-renowned fossil fields at Nilpena Ediacara NP
  • Enhanced visitor experiences at Kelly Hill Caves, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island.
  • Management of the Epic Mountain Bike Trail in Mount Remarkable NP
  • Improved bushwalking experiences on the Wild South Coast Way section of the Heysen Trail and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.
  • Extra staff for visitor facilities on Granite Island, Glenthorne and Nilpena Ediacara and the Southern Flinders Ranges including Mambray Creek, Worlds End Gorge.

About eight out of 10 South Australians visit a national park at least once a year. Total visitations, including tourists, contribute at least $374 million to the state’s economy each year and support more than 1200 private sector jobs.

Last year, more than 96,000 people travelled to the state’s South East to experience the incredible Naracoorte Caves, while the nearby Tantanoola Caves received an 8.5 per cent increase in attendees, up to about 35,000.

Attendance to Cleland Wildlife Park in 2023 climbed 34 per cent on the previous year, with almost 130,000 people visiting this incredible site situated less than 20 kilometres from Adelaide’s city centre.

The Budget also provides $6.5 million a year ensuring vulnerable biodiversity is protected when making planning decisions, rising to $7.9 million a year by 2027-28.

This will fund investments in conservation science, data collection and mapping capability to support decisions for the transition to renewable energy, fire and emergency management, economic development and conservation investment.

Projects include developing a contemporary and accurate threatened species listing, aligned with national agreements and standards and creating the state’s first Biodiversity Act.

As put by Susan Close

The State Government is committed to investing in our national parks which cover about one-fifth of the entire state and almost a third of our coastline.

This extra money is a significant investment in protecting wildlife, boosting biodiversity and preserving native vegetation, which is more important than ever in the face of climate change.

We know South Australians and tourists from all over the world love spending time in our parks and reserves, which provide amazing opportunities for camping, bushwalking and connecting with nature.

Many of our national parks are in remote areas and the cost of caring for this land is rising. This investment will ensure parks and reserves are maintained and staffed appropriately so that people have memorable experiences in them.

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