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14 June 2007 - Protection sought for Western Australias pristine woodlands      

Protection sought for Western Australia’s pristine woodlands

Sydney, 14th June                                         

The largest remaining temperate woodland left on Earth could be protected under Federal law if Humane Society International’s (HSI) nomination to list the Great West Woodlands on the National Heritage List is successful. Covering an area of more than 16 million hectares, the Great Western Woodlands is one of the last great wild places of outback Australia.

“This region is a vast expanse of wilderness that is one of the most pristine temperate woodlands in the world and is unparalleled anywhere else in Australia,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “At a time when as much as 90% of subtropical and temperate woodlands around the world have been cleared or dramatically modified, the Great Western Woodlands remain relatively untouched.”

The Great Western Woodlands is an area of outstanding natural beauty and diversity at the heart of one the world’s 34 “biodiversity hotspots” identified by Conservation International. It also falls within the Central and Eastern Avon Wheatbelt hotspot identified by the Australian Government. It supports numerous rare and endemic plant and animal species, as well as threatened ecological communities, and has been described as the woodland wilderness equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef. It is home to numerous threatened species including the endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoo and the Western quoll (or Chudditch), that is listed nationally as Vulnerable to Extinction.

“The Great Western Woodlands are a region of exceptionally high species diversity,” said Mr Kennedy. “These woodlands are underpinned by an ancient granite layer that combined with extensive heathlands and granite outcrops, provides habitat for numerous rare species, many of them relicts from the time when Australia existed as part of the Gondwanan supercontinent up to 200 million years ago. Australia’s biological and geological history is firmly entrenched in the Great Western Woodlands.”

As this new round of Heritage nominations is being determined for assessment under the Federal Government’s revised Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, HSI urges the federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, to assess as a matter of priority, HSI’s additional 22 National Heritage nominations* that are currently outstanding.

* Outstanding HSI National Heritage list nominations: Australia's Antarctic Territory/Whale Sanctuary (EEZ); Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range/ Exmouth Gulf (WA) Paroo River Catchment (QLD/WA), Barrow Island and its surrounding waters (WA), Dingo populations of Kosciusko National Park, Simpson Desert, Arafura Swamp (Arnhem Land), Fraser Island, Kapalga (in Kakadu) and Bradshaw Field Training Area (NT), Dingo populations on 5 islands in the Kimberley, Cape York (QLD, Beekeepers-Lesueur-Coomallo Area (WA), Prince Regent River Nature Reserve (WA), Fitzgerald River National Park-Ravensthorpe Range (WA), Brisbane Water National Park (NSW), the Daintree Lowland Rainforests (QLD and, Lake Eyre National Park and Elliot Price Conservation Park (SA).


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