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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
&
Hon Iain Evans MP
Minister for Environment and Heritage
South Australia

10 August 2001
EMBARGO 10am, SUNDAY 12 AUGUST

CRUCIAL MURRAY MOUTH LAND PROTECTED


Crucial property of international significance at the Murray Mouth has been secured by the State and Federal Governments so the area can better managed for conservation.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and South Australia's Environment and Heritage Minister Iain Evans announced the $3 million purchase of Wyndgate today saying the acquisition would protect critical wetlands and feeding grounds for migratory birds.

Senator Hill said the Federal Government contributed $2 million to the purchase of the 1,081ha Wyndgate property under the National Reserve System Program. The program aims to protect a representative sample of all of Australia's ecosystems.

"The unique islands of the Murray Mouth area are not currently represented in the Coorong National Park so this purchase will substantially increase the diversity of its wetland habitat," Senator Hill said.

"Preserving wetlands in this region is a high priority and purchasing Wyndgate will ensure the protection of important feeding and breeding grounds for waterfowl and migratory waders. The bar-tailed godwit, common sandpiper, caspian tern, common tern and red-necked stint have all been identified on the property.

"Most of Hindmarsh Island has been cleared of native vegetation but this property has important conservation values - it has been well protected and revegetated by its former owner."

Mr Evans said the purchase reinforced the State Government's commitment to the Save the Murray project.

"This prime land is located on the south-eastern end of Hindmarsh Island opposite the Murray Mouth and is vital for access to the Coorong and Lower Lakes wetlands area," he said.

"Hindmarsh Island has been largely cleared of native vegetation, but the Wyndgate property has a good sample of the remaining wetland habitats."

The Ministers said this access would allow National Parks and Wildlife to better manage the whole area for conservation.

"The property contains critical summer feeding habitat for both the once threatened southern Australian Cape Barren Goose and 27 migratory bird species - many of which migrate each year from Alaska and Siberia - listed under International Agreements between Australia, Japan and China," says Mr Hill.

"The purchase of Wyndgate provides an opportunity to develop a meaningful visitor destination to the mouth of Australia's great river and gateway to the Coorong."

Mr Evans says in December last year he announced the park would be increased by over 2,000 hectares over the waters surrounding the Murray Mouth and south of Hindmarsh Island. "This will result in better protection for many local species and migratory wading birds," he says.

The Coorong, and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar Management Plan, launched in December 2000 sets out objectives for ensuring the continued, sustainable use of the Coorong and Lower Lakes wetlands.

One of these objectives is to protect the full range of wetland habitats and restore degraded habitats in the Ramsar area to ensure their conservation for future generations.

Wyndgate's former owners' management, which has resulted in a number of Landcare awards, helps achieve this objective.

National Parks and Wildlife have entered into a twenty-one month management arrangement to allow the owner's farming enterprise to be phased out and for National Parks & Wildlife SA to build upon his good work.

Sunday 12 August

Media Contacts:
Senator Hill: Belinda Huppatz 0419 258 364
Minister Evans: Anna Jackson 0418 806 165

Commonwealth of Australia