The NSW Government has pledged to open a new national park in the Southern Highlands if re-elected in March.
Couched as a win for koalas, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the 3680-hectare park, which would be located near Wollondilly, on the south-western fringe of Sydney, would ensure that a vital koala wilderness area is preserved.
“The new park we’re establishing has a unique koala habit within it,” she said.
“Koalas are an iconic species and we are acting to ensure their survival.”
The government purchased about 2200 hectares from a private owner, but would not reveal how much it cost taxpayers.
The new national park comprises the private property, parts of Wollondilly River Nature Reserve and Bangadilly National Park.
“We dedicated $20 million as part of our koala strategy of $45 million to purchase land,” Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.
“[The private property] was purchased with some of those funds, together with an acquisition that National Parks made back in 2017.”
The government also announced a $150 million investment to improve access to national parks, including major upgrade works in Sydney’s Royal National Park and in the Blue Mountains.
It also seeks to create “new digital tools”, such as virtual tours and live-streaming cameras.
“We want people to come and enjoy them, to bring their families,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“People often raise with us the need to have important facilities and amenities so that they’re able to enjoy the beautiful, natural environment.”