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Hon Robert Hill
Commonwealth Minister for Environment Hon Iain Evans
S.A.Minister for Environment and Heritage
Sunday, October 15 2000
The Mokota Conservation Park was today officially opened in the State's Mid North.
Environment and Heritage Minister Iain Evans says that the new park provides an important new direction for South Australia's national parks.
"Native grasslands are one of the high priorities for conservation in South Australia, and Mokota Conservation Park is the first park to protect Lomandra tussock grassland," says Mr. Evans.
East of Mount Bryan township, the park conserves 455 hectares and has been created under the National Reserve System Program of the Natural Heritage Trust. This joint Commonwealth and State initiative contributed to the purchase and establishment of the park. The Nature Foundation SA Inc, a charitable non-government organisation, contributed $50,000 towards the purchase.
"Mokota Conservation Park is probably one of the most extensive, and relatively diverse, known areas of tussock grasslands left in South Australia," says Mr. Evans.
"It is one of the largest remaining examples of open grassy vegetation which once covered more than one million hectares of temperate Australia, but is now reduced through agricultural clearance to less than 0.33% of its original extent. This plant community was formerly very widespread in the Mid North but has largely been cleared for cropping, or grazed in an improved or unimproved state.
"This native tussock grassland is of unusually high quality due to a previous conservative stocking program and contains more than 150 indigenous plant species including 32 of particular conservation significance in South Australia.
"There is greatly increased awareness of the importance of native grasslands of the Mid North and the local communities are to be strongly commended for their dedication to protect these areas.
"As part of the Government's commitment to this process, a new Burra and Districts Office was established at Burra in July of this year. This office has an important role in managing both parks and facilitating community conservation endeavours, particularly in grassland management."
Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill, says the establishment of the park marks a new and exciting focus on grasslands in the State.
"Most surviving remnants of high quality in the region are of very small size, therefore the area of Mokota Conservation Park is exceptional," says Mr. Hill.
"This new addition to the South Australian reserve system not only ensures the protection of numerous plant species, but preserves essential habitat for fauna such as the endangered pygmy bluetongue lizard which inhabits nearby grasslands. The conservation movement in South Australia, in particular the Nature Conservation Society, played an important role in promoting the significance and importance of these grasslands."
Senator Hill - Belinda Huppatz 0419 258 364
Minister Evans - Jon Parrington 0419 825 156