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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

$50 000 BOOST FOR HUNTER WETLANDS CENTRE


The conservation of wetlands across the Lower Hunter region has received a significant boost with the announcement of $50,000 funding from the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark World Wetlands Day, Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage, said that the hard work of staff and volunteers at the Wetlands Centre would receive a 'shot in the arm' with the help of the new grant.

"The Wetlands Centre has been dedicated to wetland conservation, education and research since 1986. The Federal Government is supporting the centre with funding from the National Wetlands Program, part of the Natural Heritage Trust", Sharman Stone said.

"This new funding is a great opportunity for the Centre and comes at a critical time, as the Centre establishes new directions to make its operations self sustaining in the future.

"The Wetlands Centre provides valuable support and resources to its local community. It produces management plans and proposals for rehabilitation of degraded wetlands, facilities for the scientific study of wetlands, and seeks to educate the wider community on the importance of wetlands."

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

"Ramsar is a Convention to protect wetlands and was one of the world's first global environmental treaties. This year is the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention, to which Australia was the first signatory", Sharman Stone said.

"Wetlands are precious resources, especially in an arid country such as Australia - the oldest, driest continent on earth. They support many different species of wildlife which make wetlands their home. Many of them also give shelter to migratory waterbirds that visit Australia and rely on these areas for feeding before making the trip north again.

"In the International Year of the Volunteer it is important to recognise the 150 or so tireless volunteers at the Wetlands Centre and the thousands of volunteers around Australia who dedicate many hours to the conservation of our wetlands. If not for them, we may have lost forever many of our valuable wetland areas".

For more information on wetland conservation and management or wetland community involvement in the Lower Hunter region, check the Wetlands Centre Australia web-site at www.wetlands.org.au or phone: (02) 4951 6466.

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 or 02 6277 2016
February 2nd 2001

Commonwealth of Australia