The world’s first ever Green List presentations was like the Oscars.
As part of the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, the new initiative to recognise excellence in managing protected areas was welcomed with enthusiasm and earnestness from 3600 congress attendees.
The hosts presented the winners in alphabetical order so out of 23 winners around the globe the Aussie NSW entrant Arakwal National Park and Cape Byron State Conservation Area won the honour of being first on the new list.
Recipients of the award, Area Manager of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services Cape Byron Marine Park, Sue Walker, and the Arakwal Corporation’s Yvonne Stewart worked together to meet the Greenlist’s global standards for protected areas.
Blank couldn’t get hold of either women but Lawrence Orel from NSW Parks and Wildlife said both women were “tremendously proud, honoured and touched particularly because of the international context.”
“It reflects the success of the joint management model.”
Greenlist Coordinator James Hardcastles said after the International Union of Conservation and Nature (IUCN) developed the concept of the Green List New South Wales was one of the earliest volunteers to join, along with Columbia and Queensland but Queensland later dropped out.
He said it was a leap of faith for NSW.
IUCN then set up an independent expert group who worked with NSW Parks to put out the word to National Parks in the state who wanted to have a go.
Only two put up their hands – The Byron outfit and Montague Island in the south.
Hardcastle said both areas presented a good joint management model with great outcomes.
“[At Arakwal National Park] 65 percent of the staff are Byron Bay Arakwal people. They are involved in all aspects of the management.”
“It’s a much better place, it’s been restored, it’s values are better since that happened.”
On the lighthouse side of the protection area, he said there are 60 volunteers from the community committed to shared values.
Accommodation, fees and the parking pay for the management of the site plus it also recognises Aboriginal rights.
He said paying parking at Tallows Beach might seem impersonal but it has good outcomes because the governance is equitable.
“The whole point of the Greenlist is that the park and the protected area management say, ‘I want to hold up the mirror, I want to have a look and see how we do against the global standards of a good park,’” Hardcastle said.
“We want to see that commitment: We want to improve, we want to test ourselves, we want to keep performing.”
“That’s what it’s all about and if they do those things we will recognise it,” he said.
He said it would have been a good question – If Queensland had entered the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park would it have achieved the criteria to make the Greenlist?
A lot of people on the ground are doing fantastic work on the Reef, the coordinator said, but because of the potential large scale impacts it wouldn’t be the best one to recognise, even though the efforts of great people have done so much to slow down the reef’s decline.
Hardcastle said the IUCN Green List standards are very simple:
- A Green List park is well designed and knows what its natural, social and cultural values are.
- The governance is equitable meaning the costs and benefits are shared
- The area is managed effectively – staff are motivated and treated well and there’s a good management plan
- These all lead to good outcomes
The Gold Coast’s Springbrook would be a very strong contender if Queensland became partners.
He said however the Queensland Government’s proposed cable car project in Springbrook could be a red flag if it is not done to the international standards of a protected area that the Greenlist sets out.
He also said if the Moreton Bay Marine Park was up for consideration the impacts and standards of the proposed Cruise Ship Terminal and Casino Complex would be a factor to assess.
“What you do on land ends up in the sea. They are often hard to measure and a sensitive area like that would be of significant concern I’m sure.”
He said anyone can apply for the Green List: groups, councils, state governments, national governments to create pride in and recognise environmental achievements.
Image: IUCN announced 23 International members of Green List to recognise excellence in protected area management. Byron Bay’s Yvonne Stewart (front second from right) and Sue Walker (front third from right) were first on the list. Photo supplied by James Hardcastle IUCN