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

NATURAL HERITAGE TRUST TO FUND $2.7 MILLION RESTORATION OF HEXHAM SWAMP


30 September 1998

Federal Environment Minister today announced funding of up to $2.7 million over the next 3 years to purchase land and restore wetland habitat around Hexham Swamp for rare and endangered waterbirds, and to improve fish spawning habitat in the Hunter estuary.

Senator Hill made the announcement while inspecting the Shortland Wetlands Centre with the Federal Member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin.

The Shortlands Wetland Centre have also recently received $18,000 of Natural Heritage Trust funding this year to develop a community based monitoring program for the Kooragang Ramsar site and adjacent wetlands.

The Hexham Swamp project will result in significant on-ground environmental improvement, including:

Senator Hill said "the work being coordinated by the Hunter Catchment Management Trust with the support of local community groups, landholders, the fishing industry and the Newcastle City Council, is one of the standout projects from this year's Natural Heritage Trust grants."

Bob Baldwin, said "this waterbird conservation project will be a great boost for the environment around Newcastle, and will also lead to significant economic benefits for the Newcastle region.

"Not only will we be bringing this wetland back to life for the waterbirds, it will also make a substantial contribution to the recreational and commercial fishing industry by recreating fish spawning habitat in the Hunter estuary."

Oceanwatch estimates that the rehabilitation will provide increased productivity for the fishing industry by an estimated $1.6 million each year.

Senator Hill said "this project demonstrates just what can be achieved when local people work together with landholders and industry to restore our natural environment.

"Newcastle should be very proud of this project, which will be promoted at next year's international 'Ramsar' wetlands conference in Costa Rica, as a world class example of wildlife habitat conservation."

For further information:
Peter Cosier 08 8237 7920, 0419 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia