Hundreds rally against plan to establish more National Parks in Victoria

hundreds rally against plan to establish more national parks in victoria

Community members say a plan to establish more national parks in Victoria would lock out users from a range of activities. (ABC News: Syan Vallance)

Hundreds have gathered in Victoria's West Gippsland region to protest against a proposal to turn several state forests into a National Park.

Under the proposal about 355,000 hectares would be added to existing protected forests in Victoria's Central Highlands and a number of individual national parks would be combined to form the Great Forest National Park.

It was put forward by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC), which was engaged by the previous Minister for Environment, Ingrid Stitt.

Those who attended the rally in Drouin on Sunday raised concerns they would be "locked out" of these areas if the plan went ahead.

They said access to activities like bushwalking, four-wheel driving, hunting, fishing and camping could also be restricted.

Chris Wilson, who travelled more than 230 kilometres from Mansfield to attend, said he was worried about restricted access.

"The elites in inner city Melbourne are trying to shut down all of our recreational areas as far as I can see," Mr Wilson said.

"And stop our grandkids and our kids from enjoying what we grew up with and what we enjoyed when we were younger."

Opposition calls on government to reject proposal

The proposal follows the closure of the logging industry and consultation into how that land should be used.

Opposition Leader John Pesutto attended the rally along with several other MPs.

"I'm calling on the premier to listen to todays response and the voices from regional Victoria today and make it clear that they will not be adopting the recommendation from their own agency," Mr Pesutto said.

"No one's going to accept the Allan Labor Government locking them out."

Member for Narracan, Wayne Farnham, said the proposal would effect about 98 per cent of his electorate.

He said if access was taken away the local visitor economy would take a hit.

"I'll lose businesses. Our economy will suffer," Mr Farnham said.

"We want the government to stop. We want them to leave state forests how they are."

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Jeff Bourman echoed those concerns and said it would pose a risk to the environment.

"We've got people in there now caring for the bush by getting out the invasive species, and the introduced species, and the game animals," he said.

"If you take them away it's actually going to be a problem for the environment, not a fix."

The Victorian government has been contacted for comment.

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