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HSI's National Heritage Program      

habitat protection

HSI' s National Heritage Program

As an integral part of our habitat protection strategy, HSI has nominated Australia' s most outstanding examples of natural, historical, cultural and indigenous significance for protection as National Heritage under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

HSI secures National Heritage protection for WA's Ningaloo Reef

January 2010.  As a part of its broad conservation program to protect a range of terrestrial and marine habitats across Australia, HSI has been successful is obtaining National Heritage listing for Ningaloo Reef along Western Australia's mid-west coast, covering an area of 708,000 hectares (1.7 million acres). The listing recognises the great biological importance of the region, which includes Cape Range on Exmouth Peninsula, a coastal strip extending about 260 km south. This prestigious National Heritage listing has also permitted the Commonwealth to nominate Ningaloo Reef for the World Heritage List.

National Heritage protection for Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

In 2006, a nomination by HSI resulted in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the associated Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves being included on the National Heritage List. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the second oldest national park in Australia, ranking as one of the nation' s top biodiversity reserves. It is one of a number of sandstone national parks in the Sydney region that form part of one of the two temperate hotspots for plant endemism and richness in temperate Australia, and has been identified as one of Australia' s richest and most significant terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity hotspots for a number of different plant and animal species, coming in a close third behind the Daintree and Wet Tropics.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the associated reserves also have great cultural and spiritual importance for Indigenous Australians. There are more than 800 Aboriginal sites remaining in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park today and a significant number in the associated reserves. These relics of the area' s rich, living Aboriginal culture include rock engravings, burial sites, axe grinding grooves and places that show evidence of Aboriginal occupation such as middens and shelters.

Prioritised nominations

A number of additional HSI nominations have been prioritised for assessment for inclusion on the National Heritage List. Located in Western Australia, all of these areas are unique, pristine environments of national significance.

The Fitzgerald River-Ravensthorpe Range area is a site of outstanding natural beauty and diversity at the heart of the Southwest Australia biodiversity hotspot, one of only 34 identified in the world. This region contains an immense diversity of endemic and rare plant and reptile species, with a magnificent natural landscape of plains, valleys and tablelands, and a chain of small isolated peaks running close to the coast and forming the distinctive Barren Ranges. A gently sloping marine plain gives way to sand dunes, inlets and rivers, swamps and lakes.

The Beekeepers-Mount Lesueur-Coomallo area is also identified as one of Australia' s biodiversity hotspots. It has a richness of plant species that is almost unequalled by other vegetation types around the world, and a diversity of animal and plant species that is exceptional on the Australian landmass. The area is particularly rich in bird species and is critically important to the survival of hole-nesting birds such as Carnaby' s Black Cockatoo, a nationally endangered species.

Ningaloo Reef and the adjoining Cape Range and Exmouth Gulf are of exceptional natural, and indigenous significance. As the largest fringing coral reef in Australia, and one of the largest in the world, Ningaloo Reef is home to a diversity of marine life that is as rich in abundance as the better known Great Barrier Reef. The area is regularly visited by large congregations of the giant whale shark, and an amazing diversity of rare and threatened species including great whales, turtles, dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, and migratory birds. It is also of outstanding significance to Aboriginal people, who have a long association with the region dating back 30,000 years.

Two additional HSI nominations within the pristine wilderness of the Kimberley region in northern Western Australia, the Prince Regent River Nature Reserve and the Drysdale River National Park, will be assessed as part of the federal government' s broader strategic assessment of the Kimberley area. HSI is optimistic that world-renown natural and indigenous values of these places will result in their successful inclusion on the National Heritage List in the near future.

Future directions

Unfortunately, amendments to the EPBC Act in 2006 now mean that any nominated place that fails to be prioritised for assessment by the Environment Minister for two consecutive years must be resubmitted if it is to continue being considered. HSI has a number of nominations that fall into this category, including the Australian Antarctic Territory, Barrow Island, the Paroo River, the Great Western Woodlands, Cape York Peninsula, Lake Eyre and Brisbane Water National Park. HSI maintains that each of these locations is an outstanding example of Australia's national heritage and should be rightfully protected as such.

We have therefore resubmitted these nominations for future inclusion on the National Heritage List. The Barrow Island nomination now has an extended boundary to include the Montebello / Barrow Islands Marine Conservation Reserves, and the Brisbane Water National Park nomination now includes Bouddi National Park. HSI has also nominated the Townsville Field Training Area for protection as Commonwealth Heritage.

In addition to pursuing this active nomination program, HSI has been asking the federal government to: undertake an immediate assessment of wild and unregulated rivers to identify those for future prioritisation as National Heritage; transfer all Commonwealth marine reserves that are not already listed to the Commonwealth Heritage List; and prioritise the assessment of natural areas on the Register of National Estate that can be speedily transferred to the Commonwealth Heritage List.

Click here to read or download a PDF (1.14 kB) of HSI's Special Bulletin on Conserving Australian landscapes beyond the National Reserve System or download a PDF (1.4 kB). This special bulletin presents a simple mechanism for selecting large terrestrial areas that are of outstanding biodiversity value, and that for reasons of risk, refugial value or other important values, should be properly and comprehensively assessed for their Natural Heritage values in the development of national priorities.





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