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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Queensland Acting Minister for the Environment
The Hon Rod Welford

30 January 2003

Over $3 Million Purchases Three Additions to the National Reserves in Qld


The Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service have jointly spent $3.4 million purchasing three properties for National Parks for protection under the National Heritage Trust's National Reserve System Program.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and the Acting Queensland Minister for Environment, Rod Welford, said the land purchases are important additions to Queensland's conservation estate. The National Reserve System Program has seen the inclusion of over 20 million hectares to Australia's protected area estate.

"The three properties are 'Nairana', in the Brigalow Belt North region, north of Clermont, and properties adjoining the Edmund Kennedy National Park, near Cardwell and the Eubenangee Swamp National Park north of Innisfail. Edmund Kennedy National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and Eubenangee Swamp National Park provides an important link between two disjunct parts of the World Heritage Area," Dr Kemp said.

Mr Welford said, "The 19,700 hectare property, 'Nairana', was purchased with $1.625 million from the Natural Heritage Trust and $812,500 from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

"By purchasing this land, we are protecting endangered vegetation communities such as Brigalow, Blackwood and Gidgee, which characterise this region.

"'Nairana' will provide a pleasant river-side stop on the Belyando River for tourists and camping groups traveling the Clermont to Charters Towers Highway and there will be signage for visitors with information on the plant and animal life in the Brigalow Belt.

Dr Kemp acknowledged the special contribution of Rio Tinto in the acquisition of 'Nairana'.

"I would like to thank Rio Tinto for relinquishing an area of mining exploration permit to enable the gazettal of 'Nairana' as a national park," Dr Kemp said.

"With $308 000 from the Trust and $154 000 from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, an extension of over 600 hectares has been added to the Edmund Kennedy National Park. The area 5 km north of Cardwell on the Park's western boundary will bring the area protected to a total of 10 800 hectares.

"The acquisition will protect pristine tidal wetlands that extend from the existing park," Dr Kemp said.

"This freehold land is part of a larger block and the owners have agreed to protect the remainder of their property under a Voluntary Conservation Agreement administered by the Wet Tropics Management Authority.

"The purchase will give increased protection to the habitat of species such as the Estuarine Crocodile and the endangered Cassowary," Dr Kemp said. "Crocodiles and cassowaries traverse over a large area and are particularly sensitive to habitat fragmentation."

Dr Kemp said, "These additions in the Wet Tropics Region will complement the protection of the region's significant values provided by the World Heritage area."

Mr Welford said, "With $340,000 from the Trust and $170,000 from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service a third property 9km north of Innisfail has been purchased to add to the Eubenangee Swamp National Park. This purchase is an extension of 180 hectares, bringing the total area protected to 1,900 hectares."

"Conserving the land is very important because it is the only remaining area of freshwater mangrove forest and the largest remaining area of a type of rainforest that is only found in the lower reaches of the Russell River," Mr Welford said. "This purchase will mean that almost all of this remnant is protected as part of Eubenangee National Park."

Mr Welford said the purchase of these lands is the first step to their declaration as National Parks and that the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will manage the areas.

For more information on the NRS please go to http://www.ea.gov.au/parks/nrs/index.html and http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/environment/park/.

Media contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277640 or 0408 648 400
Annastacia Palaszczuk (Dean Well's office) 07 3225 1819 or 0419 679 354

Commonwealth of Australia