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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon Peter McGauran MP
&
Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry
The Hon Kim Chance MLC
&
Western Australian Minister for the Environment
The Hon Mark McGowan MLA

22 November 2006

$7 million to reduce cane toad impact on Kimberley wildlife


Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell, and Western Australian Minister for the Environment Mark McGowan today announced a $7 million joint government project to reduce the threat cane toads pose to Western Australian wildlife, particularly in the Ord River region and the Kimberley islands.The new project will span four years and involve $2.7million from the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust and a further $4.3million from the Western Australian Government.

Senator Campbell said this funding will fully support the project which will identify biodiversity in the area that is under possible threat from cane toads.

“This project will identify species under threat from cane toads, develop ways to minimise that threat and explore the possibility of transferring threatened and endangered species to the Kimberley Islands for sanctuary,” Senator Campbell said.

“The Kimberley islands and mainland are already seen as a treasure trove for biodiversity of international significance. In reality, not much is documented about the native animals and plants on the islands and this project will be our best opportunity to discover and document this biodiversity, most likely identifying numerous species new to science. It will also provide guidance for the future protection of these species and focus efforts to prevent cane toads establishing there.”

“We want to fight off the cane toad menace and avoid the devastation these pests have caused in Queensland. This project brings the Australian Government's total funding to fight the cane toad to $13 million.”

The Kimberley project takes Australian Government cane toad funding to $13 million nationally, most of which is aimed at finding a biological knock-out solution to the menace. Other funding for WA includes $600,000 to a Commonwealth-State task force for on-ground programs in conjunction with the Northern Territory Government and $304,000 to the Kimberley Toad Buster volunteer group for all-terrain transport, equipment, fuel and training.

The Western Australian Government has committed more than $6.4million to fight cane toads since 2004.

This funding includes $6.1million to directly fight the advancing toads, identify critical Kimberley mainland habitats for protection and to support community efforts.

A further $300,000 has also been provided to assist genetic mapping of cane toads to help in the search for a biological control and another $60,000 to assist studies by the University of Sydney in identifying native species most at risk from cane toads.

Mr McGowan said the joint Commonwealth - State project reinforced the importance of learning more about the unique biodiversity in the Kimberley islands and Ord River region in order to reduce the impact of a cane toad invasion in Western Australia.

“Cane toads have been spreading quickly across the Northern Territory, and need to move just an estimated 120 kilometres to reach West Australia,” he said. It is very important we develop contingency plans to reduce the environmental damage this invasive pest causes.

“The Australian and Western Australian Governments, through the Natural Heritage Trust, are committed to protecting Australia’s unique biodiversity in areas where cane toads are threatening our precious wildlife.

“The West Australian Government has already made very significant commitments against cane toads and other invasive pests, as well as for species conservation and recovery. This new funding will be a vital boost to existing work being carried out across the State such as the Cane Toad Management Initiative, and provide another avenue for the Western Australian and Australian Governments to cooperate to ensure that all of our wonderful native species across the Kimberley can survive in perpetuity and not be wiped out by cane toads” Mr McGowan said.

The Cane Toad Management Initiative is a combined effort of the Australian, West Australian and Northern Territory governments to stop toads entering Western Australia.

For more information on the Australian Government’s commitment to eradicating cane toads visit http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/cane-toad/index.html

Media contact:
Regina Titelius (Minister Campbell) (08) 9421 1755 or 0419 099 324
Kym Coolhaas (Minister McGowan) (08) 9222 9111

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