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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

12 May 2001

Commonwealth Boost for Blue Mountains World Heritage

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced the Commonwealth Government would provide $1million towards the construction of a Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Interpretative Centre.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony for the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Senator Hill said that the Interpretative Centre, to be situated along the Bells Line of Road in the Hawkesbury region, would play an important role in promoting conservation of the outstanding natural values of the Blue Mountains.

"The World Heritage Centre will be a major boost for the tourism industry in the Hawkesbury region. It will act as a gateway to the stunning Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, showcasing the internationally recognised biodiversity of this magnificent natural asset," Senator Hill said.

Senator Hill said the Interpretative Centre would be developed as a co-operative project with the NSW government and the Hawkesbury City Council.

"The Centre will promote the world heritage values of the Blue Mountains for the benefit of the local community and for the many tourists who visit the area. It will play a role in efforts to protect and manage the Blue Mountains, and will include interpretative and educational programs for schools and the wider community," Senator Hill said.

"The Blue Mountains are famous worldwide for their vistas and for their characteristic blue haze created by the interplay of bright sunlight and the fine droplets of oils released into the air by the eucalypts.

"This new centre will showcase the Blue Mountains' assets, the more than 90 eucalypt species, breathtaking views, deep valleys and, of course, the famous Wollemi Pine which is a living fossil dating back to the age of the dinosaurs."

The Commonwealth funding was expected to enable planning, including selection of the final site, to be accelerated and construction of the Centre to commence as soon as possible.

The Greater Blue Mountains was listed under the World Heritage Convention at the most recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee, held in Cairns in December 2000. The Blue Mountains are Australia's 14th world heritage area.

Senator Hill paid tribute to the many organisations and individuals who worked together to secure listing of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

The World Heritage Area covers approximately 1,032,649 hectares including seven National Parks (Wollemi, Yengo, Gardens of Stone, Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks) and the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve.

Senator Hill said the Commonwealth would also provide half the salary costs for a new position within the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to co-ordinate matters relating to the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, including an overarching management plan across the seven National Parks.

With the assistance of the Natural Heritage Trust, the Commonwealth has provided $74 million in 2000-2001 for the conservation and management of world heritage areas.

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson 0417 265289

Commonwealth of Australia