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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Queensland Minister for the Environment
Dean Wells

1 August 2002

World Heritage Fossils to Have Better Protection


The outstanding fossils that give World Heritage importance to Riversleigh in north-western Queensland will be better protected than ever with today’s release of The Riversleigh Management Strategy, a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

Riversleigh, along with Naracoorte in South Australia, comprises the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage Area.

Releasing the Strategy in Brisbane today, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and Queensland Minister for the Environment, Dean Wells said that Riversleigh is one of the most significant fossil deposits in the world, containing an outstanding record of Australian megafauna and the first records for many distinctive groups of living and extinct Australian mammals dating back from 15-25 million years ago.

“While this strategy is timely with regards to recent media interest in the management of Riversleigh, it should be recognised that it is the culmination of years of work and a process which was started in 1997,” Dr Kemp said.

Under the World Heritage Convention, the Federal Government has an international obligation to protect and conserve the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage Area. The Riversleigh area is managed by Queensland’s Environment Protection Agency.

“Extensive consultation and public comment has provided considerable stakeholder input, including from the principal researcher Professor Michael Archer and Traditional Owners (Waanyi),” Dr Kemp said.

“The Strategy addresses issues such as the management and security of the site, providing for a five-year research plan and providing better community engagement and management accountability by establishing a much broader community consultative mechanism to ensure that all relevant stakeholders have a say in World Heritage management,” said the Ministers.

“While the major focus is on World Heritage values, the Strategy also recognises that there are a range of other legitimate values and interests in Riversleigh,” Mr Wells said.

“It is an internationally important palaeontological research site; it is part of the traditional country of the Waanyi people; it is part of an extensive Queensland national park; it is of considerable regional importance to the tourism industry; and it is a valuable educational resource.”

Riversleigh’s fossil record includes not only living mammals such as marsupial moles and feather-tailed gliders), but also many other unique and now extinct mammals, birds and reptiles such as marsupial lions, diprotodontids (giant wombat-like marsupials) and huge pythons, as well as the early ancestors of bats, crocodiles, the platypus and the Tasmanian tiger.

A full copy of the The Riversleigh Management Strategy and more information about the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage Area can be found at the Environment Australia web site at: http://www.ea.gov.au/heritage/whatsnew and also at www.epa.qld.gov.au

Media contacts:

Catherine Job Dr Kemp’s office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Annastacia Palasczcuk Dean Wells office (07) 3225 1819 or 0419 679 354
Commonwealth of Australia