On October 20, 65 people attended a public meeting to discuss the campaign to make the Newnes Plateau and other areas around the Gardens of Stone National Park, on the western edge of the Blue Mountains, a state conservation area. David Brazil from the Colong Foundation explained that the area has the highest density of rare plants in the Blue Mountains, contains important sites of Aboriginal heritage and provides a refuge for cool-climate species as global warming increases.
A state conservation area, rather than a national park, is being proposed, because the latter can allow coalmining to continue underneath the area. Sand mining would not be allowed in a state conservation area, and trail bikes would have to stick to roads.
Brian Marshall from the Blue Mountains Conservation Society argued that the future of the area lies in sustainable tourism, and that this will create jobs: "Coal will run out; a sustainable tourism industry will continue into the future."
The campaign to extend the area protected by the national park was launched last November. For further information, phone the Colong Foundation on (02) 9261 2400 or the Blue Mountains Conservation Society on (02) 4757 1872.