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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

23 August 2001


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the inaugural meeting in Melbourne today of shorebird experts from around Australia will boost the ongoing survival chances of millions of migratory birds.

Senator Hill said the National Shorebird Conservation Taskforce is a key component of a three-year Natural Heritage Trust project designed to accelerate on-ground conservation of priority Australian shorebird sites.

"In April each year an estimated two million birds take flight from Australian shores and head north to their breeding grounds on the Russian tundra. When breeding is completed in September, they head south again to our wetlands and coasts to spend the summer months," Senator Hill said.

"Some species of shorebirds, weighing as little as 30 grams, may travel 25,000 kilometres in one year.

"The routes they travel along are called 'flyways', consisting of chains of important wetlands. Nearly 40 species of migratory shorebird visit Australia each year as they follow the East Asian-Australasian flyway, which also includes Eastern and South-east Asia, New Zealand and the Arctic Circle.

"With the population pressures and threats to habitats in most of these countries, including Australia, shorebirds face enormous challenges to their continuing existence. However, conservation efforts will be futile unless all countries along the flyway act together to protect their wetland areas.

"This three-year project, funded by the Natural Heritage Trust and coordinated by the World Wide Fund for Nature, reflects Australia's commitment to help the global conservation effort to protect migratory bird species such as plovers, sand-pipers, curlews and snipe.

"It will accelerate on-ground conservation of the 201 priority Australian shorebird sites identified in the 'National Action Plan for Shorebird Conservation in Australia'."

Project activities include:

Senator Hill said the National Shorebird Conservation Task Force will play a vital role in coordinating national conservation actions. It comprises representatives from WWF, Birds Australia, the Australasian Wader Study Group, Wetland Care Australia, Wetlands International - Oceania, the Conservation Council of WA, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, the Marine and Coastal Community Network, Environment Australia, and the ANZECC Wetlands and Migratory Shorebirds Taskforce.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Contacts: Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia