The Victorian Coalition Government will ask the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) to investigate under what circumstances it is appropriate that greater access be provided for low impact prospecting, while still protecting the heritage and environmental values of our national parks.
Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O'Brien said recreational prospecting was already allowed in several national parks supporting the fact that this activity is low-impact on the environment.
"It involves the use of hand tools only, the most common being metal detectors. Prospecting does not include commercial mining," Mr O'Brien said.
Areas subject to the VEAC investigation may include Alpine, Baw Baw, Croajingolong, Errinundra, Lake Eildon, Lind, Mitchell River and Yarra Ranges National Parks as well as Lerderderg State Park.
Mr O'Brien said there was a strong recreational prospecting community and history in Victoria and many individuals and families enjoyed fossicking for gold and gemstones.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said VEAC's independent investigation process would ensure consultation across government and with stakeholders, including key conservation groups.
The Government will seek public comment as part of the VEAC investigation.
VEAC is due to report on the completed investigation by 30 April 2013.
Terms of Reference are available DSE website: www.dse.vic.gov.au