Monday, 20 November 2023

Cleland’s entry into the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy

It is Rod’s, Sophie’s and my great pleasure to be with you today to mark Cleland National Park’s admission into the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

Cleland National Park is a special place for many South Australians.

It is home to the beloved Cleland Wildlife Park, where we meet today, long stretches of stunning bushland, and the popular walking track from Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit.

The Kaurna and Peramangk people traversed and cared for this land for tens of thousands of years, before they were joined by the early settlers, including women who travelled to market in Adelaide along what is now known as the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Trail.

The value of Cleland as a national park and protected space is very important for South Australians now and into the future.

I am very pleased that it has become only the third addition to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy in Australia, following Bulburin National Park in Queensland and the ancient rainforests of K’gari on Fraser Island.

Following Her Late Majesty’s passing in 2022, it is also the final location to gain admission to the canopy, conserving almost 12 million hectares of indigenous forests in 54 countries across the Commonwealth.

As our world grapples with the challenges of climate change, the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy makes a significant contribution to promoting the importance of forest conservation.

The physical, economic and spiritual health of the earth’s people is closely tied to the health of our forest ecosystems.

Forests provide us with oxygen, shelter, employment, water, nourishment, fuel and recreational opportunities.

They help prevent erosion and enrich and conserve soil, as well as regulating the earth’s water cycle.

They are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity, including amphibians, birds and mammals.

In addition, some 70 million people worldwide - including many indigenous communities - call forests home.

Increasingly, science is revealing that spending time in forests – or the bush, as we might call it - makes you feel better.

It can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

There is even a term for this in Japanese that is gaining awareness around the world: shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy was officially launched in 2015 at the 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta.

During this event, Her Majesty expressed her pleasure to support the canopy, the first environmental initiative she had lent her title to, and its potential contribution.

She said, “This and other initiatives are a practical demonstration of the power of the Commonwealth, working as a group, to effect real change for generations to come."

I congratulate Cleland National Park on its inclusion in the Queen’s Canopy, and thank the Department for Environment and Water for its management of this beautiful piece of South Australian bushland.

I also thank the Royal Commonwealth Society, as well as charity Cool Earth and The Commonwealth Forestry Association for their involvement in this canopy project.

Along with other visitors, I look forward to enjoying the Cleland National Park for many years to come, and we all celebrate its preservation for many generations of South Australians to come.

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