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8 August 2000

Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill and Western Australian Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes have announced a new conservation park in the Pilbara in Western Australia's North-West.

The Cane River Conservation Park, about 100km south east of Onslow extends over 148,000 hectares and includes several landforms and vegetation types of particular significance not found in other conservation reserves in the Pilbara.

The Cane River pastoral station was bought in 1996 and funded jointly by the State and Federal Governments through the WA Department of Conservation and Land Management and the National Reserve System Program, now part of the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

Mrs Edwardes said Cane River comprised alluvial, spinifex-covered plains and strikingly contrasting sandstone ranges and granite outcrops including the Parry Range and Mt Minnie.

"The conservation park falls within the southern Pilbara biogeographic region and is important from a conservation perspective because it contains plant and geological associations not found elsewhere in the region.

"The park has a number of tree species including snakewood, bloodwoods, river red gums and cajeputs (a paperbark) and biological surveys have revealed a large suite of native mammals including the northern quoll and several smaller species as well as a range of native rodents," she said.

Senator Hill said the reservation of Cane River Station was one of several important additions to WA's conservation estate in the Pilbara under the National Reserve System Program in the past few years.

"Almost 2 million hectares of land has been bought to add to WA's conservation estate through the National Reserve System Program in the past two years. In WA, the focus of the program is on buying land which supports ecosystems that are not represented or are poorly represented in the existing conservation estate and to protect these areas in the National Reserve System.

"In establishing a comprehensive, adequate and representative conservation reserve system (CAR) for Australia priority also is given to buying lands that contain threatened ecological communities," he said.

"At the same time, the program is designed to involve landholders and indigenous people in conservation and land management."

Mrs Edwardes said an interim plan identifying management objectives for the medium term had been developed.

The station had been relatively understocked for several years before it was bought and the rangeland was generally in good condition. The previous owner had destocked the lease.

Other major purchases have included Meentheena Station, East Pilbara, 225,700ha; Mt Minnie Pastoral Lease, Ashburton, 110,921ha; and part of Nanutarra Pastoral Lease, Ashburton 70,030ha.

8 August 2000

Media contacts:
Mrs Edwardes - Steve Manchee on 9421 7777 or 0408 051 772
Senator Hill - Matt Brown 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
CALM - Chris Muller 9143 1488

Commonwealth of Australia