INDEPENDENT candidate for Corangamite and local environmental activist Damien Cole has proposed visitor passes be implemented to help fund the preservation and conservation of The Great Otway National Park.
The user-pay pass would apply to all non- Victorians and would generate revenue for an independent trust to help protect the park, currently managed and protected by Parks Victoria.
The pass could be issued on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis to any visitors from interstate and overseas.
Mr Cole said that under his proposal, the national park would increase to encompass the Bells Beach Reserve, to ensure protection at a federal level, by being managed by Parks Australia.
“In addition, given its historical and sacred nature, Bells Beach would be cared for by the local Wadawurrung people with an added Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) overlay,” Mr Cole said.
“Representatives of the Wadawurrung people would be employed via the newly formed trust.”
A long-term goal of Mr Cole is to see the application to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to list The Great Otway National Park landscapes and ecosystems as a World Heritage site.
“It’s imperative that we ensure the protection of this incredible coastline and native forests not only for us today, but for future generations,” he said.
“The addition of a First Nations overlay to Bells Beach would also give the park further protection and celebrate not only the environmental beauty but cultural importance of Bells.”