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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

9 November 2002

International Reserve Status for Mornington Peninsula

Mornington Peninsula, Western Port and environs, Phillip Island and French Island, were today designated as one international Biosphere Reserve.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp today welcomed the approval of Australia's newest Biosphere Reserve, the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve by the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) International Coordinating Council, which met in Paris this week.

Representing the Commonwealth today at a celebration by the local community was Federal Member for Dunkley, Mr Bruce Billson.

Dr Kemp said a Biosphere Reserve is one or more protected areas and surrounding lands that are managed by combining both conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

"The Mornington Reserve is used for a mix of residential, industrial, farming, fishing, recreational, conservation, and tourism activities. It also includes areas listed on international treaties - for example, Western Port Bay is designated as a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands," Dr Kemp said.

"The Federal Government is the national focal point for Biosphere Reserves in Australia. It is pleasing to see a number of local communities developing new proposals for Biosphere Reserves around Australia.

"A strong proposal such as this deserves international community support. This reserve is an excellent example of local communities addressing sustainable development issues by taking actions to protect their local environment.

"My Department has been very supportive of the Mornington proposal and is working with other Biosphere Reserve proponents to assist them as they develop plans for reserves in their regions," Dr Kemp said.

Dr Kemp said that giving a greater role to the local community and ensuring the area remains liveable for future generations is the key to this Biosphere Reserve designation, which is the first biosphere to be announced in 20 years in Australia.

"The proposal has been developed by local individuals, community groups and local government councils working closely with Parks Victoria and other government agencies.

"It provides a framework for local conservation and development activities, seeking to protect the special environmental values of the region, whilst providing for economic growth.

"I congratulate the local community for their work on the reserve and look forward to more nominations in the future," Dr Kemp said.

The Mornington Reserve includes the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, part of Frankston, coastal areas of the City of Casey, Cardinia and Bass Coast including Phillip and French Islands with a combined area of 2142 square kilometres, approximately one third of which covers coastal areas and the waters of Western Port.

A Biosphere Reserve is an international designation made by UNESCO on the basis of nominations submitted by countries participating in the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB).

MAB was launched in 1971 to catalyse a greater understanding and provision of knowledge and skills to support sustainable relationships between people and their environment.

As at the end of March 2002, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves included 409 sites in 94 countries

Media contact:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp’s office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia