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

Daintree Planning Options to be Considered

14 April 1999

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has confirmed the Wet Tropics Ministerial Council will commission an independent analysis of long term planning options to protect world heritage values in the Daintree region.

"The Daintree region is of exceptional environmental significance and all levels of government need to work in partnership with the community to ensure the long term protection of these values for future generations," Senator Hill said.

At its meeting on 19 March 1999, the Ministerial Council noted that the Daintree Rescue Program was coming to an end.

"An independent review of the Daintree Rescue Program (DRP) gave it a mixed report card. While it achieved some important conservation gains, several factors have limited its overall success."

The Commonwealth and Queensland governments provided $23 million to the DRP, resulting in the acquisition of 83 allotments of land. This represents 7% of the allotments in the Daintree and 19% of the total area of freehold land. Only a small number of co-operative management agreements have been signed.

Senator Hill said a range of complex planning and natural resource management issues still needed to be addressed.

"I expect the analysis will identify a range of planning initiatives required, such as effective controls of vegetation clearance. World heritage and biodiversity values need to be protected, a sustainable tourism industry needs to be promoted and the infrastructure requirements of the local community must also be considered.

"Calls for government to provide a bottomless pit of money are not realistic and will not provide the answer. The Commonwealth will not fund further wholesale buy-backs under the DRP."

Senator Hill said the planning analysis would look at options available to secure long term protection for the Daintree's environmental values.

"The study will allow governments to develop a range of strategies which could include increased use of conservation agreements and strategic purchases of high priority land. Commonwealth contributions toward any such purchases would need to be considered under existing programs forming part of the $1.1 billion Natural Heritage Trust," Senator Hill said.

Media Contact:
Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7211 or 0411128582

Commonwealth of Australia