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Media Release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
&
Senator the Hon Bill Heffernan
Federal Member for New South Wales

18 November 2004

$100,000 Australian Government support for Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area


An area of New England that is rich in botanical and cultural values is to be conserved with $100,000 in funding from the Australian Government for the Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).

Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, congratulated Banbai Business Enterprises for its efforts in protecting and conserving the Wattleridge property's natural and cultural values.

"The Wattleridge IPA comprises 480 hectares of unique bushland on outcropping granite. It is the last remnant of this type of vegetation not yet protected in the New England region," Mr Hunt said.

"The area's protection from logging, grazing and fire for nearly 30 years means the vegetation in the IPA is very special.

"At least 12 rare or endangered fauna species and 15 flora species have been found, or are predicted to occur, within the Wattleridge IPA. The Glossy Black Cockatoo, the Masked Owl and the Spotted-tailed Quoll are just three of the fauna species currently listed as vulnerable in NSW, all of which are known at Wattleridge.

"Some of the rare and threatened flora species include shrubs such as Woolly Cryptandra, Black Holly Grevillea and New England Brachyloma, and two species of eucalypt including the New England Mallee."

New South Wales Senator, the Hon. Bill Heffernan, said the Wattleridge property was purchased in 1998 for the Banbai Land Enterprises by the Indigenous Land Corporation in recognition of its cultural significance for the local Aboriginal community and its potential for development of small-scale businesses, particularly ecotourism.

"Wattleridge is of tremendous importance to the Banbai community as it includes the only recorded axe grinding groove sites and fully recorded art sites in the local area," Senator Heffernan said.

"Some of the major projects scheduled for the coming year include feral animal control, training staff in herbicide, erecting fencing across the property to improve safety for visitors, and investigating business options for the property."

The Indigenous Protected Areas program is a part of the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the largest ever commitment by an Australian Government to environmental management and sustainable agriculture.

"Indigenous landowners are being supported through the IPA program to manage their lands to protect the natural and cultural features in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines for the benefit of all Australians. Over eight years, the IPA program has added 13.8 million hectares of unique ecosystems to the National Reserve System," Mr Hunt said.

For further information on Indigenous Protected Areas, visit www.deh.gov.au/indigenous/ipa

Commonwealth of Australia