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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1491

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (16:35): Angove Conservation Park is a relatively small but important conservation park located in the midst of housing in St Agnes, in the Makin electorate. Similar to the nearby and larger Anstey Conservation Area, Angove Conservation Park has been preserved in its natural bushland state. It is home to many native birds, plants and animals. It conserves one of the last remaining stands of remnant drooping she-oak and southern cypress pine open woodlands within the Adelaide foothills. The park is listed as containing 142 native plant species and as providing specialised habitat for a small number of animals that require dense vegetation to survive. Several species of reptiles can also be found, along with mammals such as ringtail and brush-tailed possums, bats and 74 species of birds. As Chair of the House Standing Committee on Climate Change, the Environment and the Arts, which has only recently concluded an inquiry into biodiversity, I am well aware of the importance Angove serves in preserving biodiversity in the local urban landscape.

Angove Conservation Park is frequently visited for general recreation, education and management purposes. Visitors to the park and volunteers who generously give of their time to care for it have raised legitimate concerns about access to the park and the risk of bushfire arising from a general lack of maintenance. In the midst of the bushfire season, with bushfires raging out of control around the country, destroying lives, property, flora and fauna, locals of Angove Conservation Park want to see precautions taken to minimise the risks of fire and to protect lives and property should a bushfire occur. They have petitioned the Teatree Gully Council to install another gate at the junction of Angove Park Drive and Corella Place, located on the eastern perimeter of the park, to enable an additional fire exit from their neighbourhood if a fire emergency arises. The local residents have also called for more firebreaks and maintenance of inflammable undergrowth to minimise fire concerns. What is being sought is reasonable and sensible.

As Angove Conservation Park falls under the care and control of the state government, I have previously written to the state Minister for the Environment about the fire risks and management of the park and I understand that some maintenance work was carried out as a result. With experiences of major fires in the nearby Anstey Hill Recreation Park in the past, the concerns of the local community relating to the risks to the park and to their properties from a bushfire are well founded. Should a fire occur and get out of control, the tree-lined streets of Angove Park Estate would enable the fire to very quickly spread throughout the housing estate, putting lives at risk and causing damage to properties.

In support of their petition I have written to both the Tea Tree Gully council and the state government drawing their attention to the Natural Disaster Resilience Program which may be a source of funding to carry out the works and maintenance requested. The Angove Conservation Park is an asset to the region and I applaud the Tea Tree Gully council and the state government for preserving it, particularly as parts of it could easily have been sold off for housing.

As with all public areas, there is inevitably a need for ongoing maintenance. To date much of that maintenance has been carried out by dedicated volunteers who, like their fellow volunteers from the Friends of Anstey Hill Conservation Park, the Friends of Dry Creek and the Friends of Cobbler Creek, give so much of their time to preserve and maintain wonderful environmental sanctuaries in the midst of suburbia so that current and future generations can enjoy and benefit from them. These are assets which are so often referred to when highlighting the good things about the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide and which are, indeed, widely used for recreational purposes. The volunteers cannot and should not be expected to meet the direct financial costs of maintenance associated with their efforts. The financial outlays they seek pale into insignificance when assessed against the value of the community and environmental assets created and maintained. They are assets which would have been lost forever were it not for these volunteer groups and which will be even more appreciated in years to come.

Can I also take this opportunity in talking about volunteers to pay tribute and congratulate David Mitchell for his recent Order of Australia award. His award is for his service to conservation and the environment as a volunteer, and I particularly acknowledge his efforts with the organisation Trees For Life and his efforts with the Friends of Cobbler Creek, which is the one of the reserves I referred to.