Things you didn’t know about National Parks

View at Gloucester Tops in the Barrington Tops National Park. Photo courtesy of National Parks and Wildlife Service
View at Gloucester Tops in the Barrington Tops National Park. Photo courtesy of National Parks and Wildlife Service

Did you know that 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

It’s special time in the organisation’s history and a great opportunity to celebrate what has been achieved over the past five decades.

Over the coming weeks a five part series of articles will be published by the Manning River Times online to help celebrate the anniversary with 50 interesting things about the national parks of Barrington Tops and the NPWS.

The first 10 interesting things:

1.  When the NPWS was established in 1967 it managed less than one percent of the state’s land.  It now protects almost nine percent of NSW across 875 reserves – an area larger than Tasmania.

2. NSW national parks are important for conserving biodiversity and cultural heritage. They provide people from across Australia and the world with an opportunity to connect with the natural environment. In 2016 there were more than 51 million visits to NSW national parks, making them one of the most popular destinations in Australia. In an increasingly busy and crowded world, our national parks are important in allowing people the opportunity to get away from it all.

3. Barrington Tops area has incredible environmental diversity due to the interactions of geography, altitude, rainfall and soils. We have everything from subtropical rainforest to subalpine wetlands, snow-gum woodlands, and everything in between.

4. The area’s conservation values are internationally significanct – reflected in their incorporation in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Barrington Tops is the southern-most part of the World Heritage Area.

5. The rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park are remnants of vast prehistoric forests that once covered the southern continents, originating from the ancient Gondwana super-continent. Gondwana started to break up about 180 million years ago, eventually splitting into the land masses of Africa, South America, Australia, and Antarctica.

6. Our forests are close relatives to those found in fossils, including from Antarctica - hence the name Antarctic Beech for our cool-temperate rainforest species. This fossil record, and the plants across the southern continents, helped in the discovery of continental drift.

7. Copeland Tops and Woko National Park are home to the largest expanse of dry rainforest in NSW.

8 The area now covered by Barrington Tops and Mount Royal national parks is the traditional country of the Biripi, Worimi, Geawegal, Wonaruah and Ungooroo people whose traditional lands intersect on the plateau.

9. Barrington Tops National Park was first declared in 1969 when it comprised only 13,831 hectares. It now conserves 74,567 hectares of important environments.

10. The Barrington Tops sub-alpine wetlands contain up to 10 metres of sphagnum moss peat. The peat acts as a giant sponge, releasing water slowly and making our rivers more drought-proof than they otherwise might be.

Watch out for the next segment in the 50 years of National Parks series.