Are feral deer numbers rising in the Royal National Park? How about the fate of the southern corroboree frog found only in the Kosciuszko National Park? Are taxpayers’ dollars to limit one and boost the other species being well spent?
For the first time, the public will be able to track the health of those two key conservation areas as part of a $10 million program to boost science and park management. Developed with two leading ecologists, the scorecards will later be extended to six other protected regions including the Blue Mountains, the Macquarie Marshes and the arid far north-west.
The introduction of the scorecards also marks a change of course for the government. After shearing off most of the scientists within National Parks and Wildlife Service and placing them in other units or letting them go, the department is again hiring ecologists and other specialists.
The selection of two outspoken academics – Richard Kingsford from the University of NSW to lead a team to help draw up the Royal National Park’s scorecard, and David Lindenmayer from the Australian National University leading a similar group for Kosciuszko.