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Media Release
Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


2 February 2001

Australia celebrates three new Ramsar Sites on World Wetlands Day


The biological diversity, beauty and importance of Australia's wetlands were confirmed today when three new Ramsar Sites were listed as Wetlands of International Importance.

Speaking at a launch today to mark World Wetlands Day, Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage said the new sites, as well as extensions to the four existing sites, were priorities because each possesses unique wetland values and characteristics.

"All of the new wetland sites listed under the Ramsar Convention: Becher Point Wetlands, Lake Gore, and Muir-Byenup, are located in Western Australia, which now has the greatest number of Ramsar sites of any State or Territory in Australia", Sharman Stone said.

"The Federal Government is proud to have contributed to the listing of the new sites by providing funding under the Natural Heritage Trust for a project designed to assist with nominations, including consulting with stake holders and selecting sites".

"This is a great achievement for Australia, on this the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention, and brings the total number of Australian Ramsar sites to 56".

"In 1971, in the Iranian town of Ramsar, representatives from 18 countries signed one of the world's first global environmental treaties, a Convention to protect wetland ecosystems.

"Both nationally and internationally, Australia is considered to be at the forefront of protecting and managing its wetlands, particularly its Ramsar sites.

"Australia listed the world's very first Ramsar site in 1974, the Cobourg Peninsula Aboriginal Land and Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Territory, and was one of the first signatories to the Ramsar Convention.

"I am very proud that with the help of the Natural Heritage Trust, Australia has just become the first Contracting Party to release its National Wetland Education Action Plan, which facilitates community education about our wetlands. The Action Plan provides a framework to coordinate these activities, share information and establish partnerships".

"Wetlands are the vital link between land and water. They are essential to the healthy functioning of catchments and aquatic systems and deliver a multitude of benefits including water purification and flood mitigation. I am therefore pleased to announce the release of the 3rd Edition of " A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia", which provides information useful for making decisions on the protection of wetlands.

While Australia is doing an excellent job in protecting and conserving our wetlands, there is plenty that communities can do in their local areas to encourage the wise use of wetlands.

For more information on what is happening throughout Australia on World Wetlands Day or for a copy of A Directory of Important Wetlands, go to Environment Australia's web site at: www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands.

For access to high resolution wetland and shorebird images, please see: World Wetlands Day Media Page at www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands

For further information please contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
February 2nd, 2001


ATTACHMENT

Commonwealth of Australia