Conservationists call for one fifth of Australia to be assessed for National Heritage listing
Sydney, 26 February 2009
Humane Society International (HSI) has called for one-fifth of Australia to be assessed for listing and management as National Heritage under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999.
The call is made in a report released today “Conserving Australian Landscapes Beyond the National Reserve System – Developing Terrestrial Natural Heritage Properties and Using the EPBC Act Effectively”. It suggests National Heritage protection for large tracts of land in all corners of Australia, from the forests of South-west Australia and Tasmania’s Tarkine, to Queensland’s Desert Uplands and the Paroo River wetlands in NSW.
The report’s primary author, Dr Judy Lambert AM, says that “If Australia’s rich biological heritage is to survive into the future, we cannot rely solely on a network of national parks that become slowly isolated in hostile and degraded environments. Instead, we need national parks to be integrated into broad landscapes that are well managed to preserve their natural heritage values and National Heritage listings are an important tool”.
The report is based on assessments by a range of international and Australian experts to identify biodiversity hotspots (critical places because of their rich abundance of irreplaceable species and ecosystems; that also face serious ongoing threats).
Dr Lambert said that, “Designating broad landscapes for National Heritage protection can encompass and sustain the ecological complexity needed to ensure resilience of the natural systems present, and represents meaningful conservation”.
Joint author, Michael Kennedy, HSI Campaign Director, said that, “Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has already triggered National Heritage assessment of 17,000,000 hectares of the Kimberley, and is undertaking background work for an assessment of Cape York’s heritage values. Extending the areas for National Heritage assessment can and should be done immediately, making an essential contribution to the conservation of Australia’s biological diversity and our climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.”
While there are a large number of areas that deserve assessment for their biodiversity and National Heritage values, priority areas identified in the report are: Cape York Peninsula • Cairns-Wooroonooran NP-Daintree Lowland Rainforest • Einasleigh & Desert Uplands • Brigalow North • Great Eastern Australia Forests • Western Tasmania, Midlands & Tarkine • Gawler, Lofty Ranges & Kangaroo Island • Great Western Woodlands • Southwest Western Australia • Carnarvon Basin • Hamersley-Pilbara • North Kimberley • West MacDonnell Ranges • Mound Springs of South Australia and the Northern Territory • Paroo River Catchment • Cooper Creek Catchment • Barrow Island.
Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Programs Manager said that, “HSI recommends Minister Garrett begin a complete and comprehensive assessment of these areas for their natural heritage values with a view to National Heritage listings to complement the National Reserve system and other conservation mechanisms”.