Friends of Parks, business and tourism groups respond to "Reimagining Kangaroo Island" plans

The site of the former Flinders Chase National Park visitor centre now stands vacant after the bushfires, ready for redevelopment.
The site of the former Flinders Chase National Park visitor centre now stands vacant after the bushfires, ready for redevelopment.

Stakeholders in Kangaroo Island's national parks and reserves have responded to the state government's Reimagining Kangaroo Island plan.

Friends of Parks KI Western Districts does not want a repeat of the Australian Walking Company wilderness development proposal that ended up in court after opposition by Island residents.

Business KI and the Island tourism association meanwhile welcome a chance to have a say.

KI locals, business owners and visitors are invited to now share their ideas to reimagine visitor experiences in some of the Island's national parks.

The engagement process is now underway until September to seek a broad range of community views about how national parks can be developed and experienced, including those destroyed in the bushfires.

Flinders Chase National Park will reopen to the public to this Saturday, July 4, but without a visitor centre and other infrastructure.

The department is looking to reimagine the visitor experiences in Flinders Chase National Park, Kelly Hill Conservation Park, including Ravine des Casoars and Cape Bouguer wilderness protection areas and Cape Borda, as well as Seal Bay Conservation Park.

Feedback gathered throughout the engagement will be collated into a visioning paper, which will help set a direction for the future delivery of visitor experiences in these parks, as well as inform a new west Kangaroo Island parks management plan.

For more information, to register your interest in attending a focus group, or for opportunities to participate in online engagement visit www.parks.sa.gov.au/reimagine-ki/

Friends of Parks KI Western Districts president Deb Laver said volunteers had devoted many thousands of hours over 20 years protecting parks and reserves, and encouraging sustainable visitation and helping scientific research.

"The bushfires have provided an opportunity to review how parks are managed and utilised and we are not opposed to this, provided that conservation values take priority over profits," Mrs Laver said.

"Our group will try be involved as much as the process allows while still being committed to the 'Public Parks not Private Playgrounds' campaign.

"We, like most of the Island community, remain implacably opposed to giving an entitled few access to remote beaches and headlands and we would encourage people to express this viewpoint loudly and clearly through the planning process to the department and the minister."

KI Business and Brand Alliance (KIBBA) will be represented in the process by board member and brand partner Peter Davis, who has long experience of fire-fighting, business, the honey industry and the west end of the Island, where he grew up.

"The natural environment is a key part of the Kangaroo Island Brand and the tourism industry is based on that natural environment," KIBBA chairman Brett Miller said.

"That means every business that supports tourism is also reliant on the parks. The parks are highly prized in our brand values and by business people, and we can make a real contribution to making them the best they can be,"

KI Tourism Food Wine and Beverage Association chairman Pierre Gregor said the association had been in regular and close dialogue with the department at the operational and strategic level.

"Out of adversity this is an opportunity to 'build back better' while taking into consideration the multifaceted needs of visitors and residents alike," Mr Gregor said.

"It is great to see this focus on enhancing some of the Island's natural assets that contribute to the management of the environment while also stimulating the visitor economy."

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