From the Alps to the outback

Parks Victoria on its latest conservation work, including the creation of the Australian state’s largest conservation sanctuary.

Parks Victoria is the national park management agency for the state of Victoria in Australia. Re-established under the Parks Victoria Act 2018 with clear objectives and functions, we now act as a strengthened park management agency for the community and the environment. We care for 18% of Victoria’s landmass (4.1 million hectares), managing this estate in partnership with Traditional Owners, government and non-government organisations, park neighbours, friends’ groups (volunteers) and the broader community.

What habitats, ecosystems and biomes do you work with?

We manage a diverse network of parks, home to over 4,300 native plant species and 948 native animal species. The parks include some of Victoria’s largest and most undisturbed ecosystems – landscapes like the Alps, the Mallee, grasslands, inland waters and wetlands. It covers Victoria’s marine national parks and sanctuaries that protect a wide array of marine life. Within this network, there are thousands of Aboriginal and post-European cultural and heritage sites, a range of historic gardens, several local ports and major rivers, many piers and around 70% of Victoria’s coastline. Parks Victoria is also the local port manager for Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and Port Campbell, and the waterway manager for the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers.

What are your most pressing conservation challenges?

The impacts of climate change are having huge ramifications for conservation management

particularly with regards to the changes to habitats of threatened species. Other conservation challenges for Parks Victoria include dealing with the frequency and intensity of wild fires and storms,



eradicating invasive/introduced species (pest plant and animals), and management of illegal activities, such as the collection of firewood in conservation areas. The other challenge is people’s connection with nature, and the need for more engagement with communities and advocacy of parks by the public.

Tell us about some of your latest projects or conservation successes.

In 2002, Victoria established one of the world’s first representative systems of fully protected national parks and sanctuaries, 13 large marine national parks and 11 smaller marine sanctuaries. Two decades on, with help from researchers at Deakin University, we’ve conducted a stocktake of marine protected areas and found that overall they are having a positive impact on biodiversity1.

At the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland, Wilsons Promontory National Park is set to become a 50,000 hectare climate change safe haven, where Victoria’s rich wildlife and habitats are freed from the pressures of introduced predators and pests2. Ramped-up conservation programmes, complemented by an exclusion fence designed to prevent introduced animals from entering the national park, will transform it into Victoria’s largest conservation sanctuary.

Which of IUCN services, tools or knowledge products have been important to your work?

Parks Victoria is a long-term member of IUCN and engages in many activities and processes as part of its membership, such as the IUCN Green List and IUCN’s Best Practice Guidelines to inform our management practices and approaches. We support staff membership of IUCN’s various Commissions; have representation on the Australian Committee for IUCN; attend events, including the World Protected Area Leaders Forum and World Conservation Congress; participate in the Members Assembly; provide content to the Panorama conservation tool; and submit nominations for the International Ranger Awards – with two honourable mentions for staff in 2021.

Why is it important to be an IUCN Member?

IUCN builds the capacity of our staff and informs our management approaches and practices. The convening power of IUCN is of immense value – including engagement across sectors, access to high-level events to profile our work and learn from others, a platform for discussion and debate, as well as access to a network of global experts.

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