The dedication of certain lands as protected areas indicates that they contain special features of value to society. Internal management strategies for these protected areas will not ensure that they achieve sustainable development, for the boundaries of protected areas seldom isolate or shield them from their surroundings. This thesis reveals that there are many external threats to protected areas, and that current research indicates the need for buffer zones to be planned for protected areas.
After examination of current approaches to planning for buffer zones, Protection Zone Planning (Kozlowski and Ptaszycka-Jackowska 1981) was chosen as a suitable methodology for delimiting a buffer zone and associated land use policies around Cooloola National Park. The methodology incorporated a number of features important in formulating such zones. It was based on a recognition of the heterogeneity of the environment, one where complex interactions occur within and among ecosystems. It recognized the need to identify external threats to protected areas and to understand the dynamic nature of the environment, thus necessitating an analysis of both the existing and potential threats to protected areas. Recognition of the important role that human communities play in the land surrounding protected areas was another important feature. Importantly, the methodology ensured a proactive basis for planning development within the buffer zones.
The development of the Cooloola National Park buffer will help ensure that the existing and potential threats to this large and very diverse park are eliminated or at the very least minimised, through the implementation of specific land use policies designed for each identified threat. The Cooloola National Park buffer through the implementation of compatible land uses and activities will significantly improve the protection of the park, and contribute to the attainment of sustainable development.