The Australian Government's $10 million Regional Natural Heritage Program (RNHP), established in 2004, awards funds to important projects saving habitats in Asia Pacific ' biodiversity hotspots', with funds given primarily to non-government organisations. The program has used its base funding to leverage an additional $13 million to go directly towards on-ground work in Asia and the Pacific ($23 million in all so far with program time still to run). This program was developed thanks to the work of Senator Meg Lees.
The country/habitat/species beneficiaries in the third round of funding include; biodiversity conservation in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in the Philippines; Protecting the Heart of the Coral Triangle ' Marine Protected Areas in Indonesia; Conserving Scott's Tree Kangaroo in the Torricelli Mountain range in Papua New Guinea; Coral Reef Reserve Protection in Central Provinces of Vietnam; Biodiversity Conservation in Votua Village, Fiji Islands, and Conservation of the Golden Headed Langur on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam, while fourth round allocations are due to be announced by the Minister.
It is extremely important for developed nations like Australia to share the responsibility of protecting the immense and threatened biological diversity of our region. When the Prime Minister launched this program, it was under the very apt heading of ' International Good Neighbours' . HSI hopes this will be a role the Australian Government will play over the long-term. Such work contributes significantly to regional, and hence Australia's environmental, economic and political security.
Write to the Prime Minister, The Hon John Howard and the Minister for Environment & Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600.
Ask them to commit to renewing this critical program in the 2007 ' 2008 budget process and to increase allocated funds to $20 million over the new 3 year program period (2007 ' 2010).