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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

16 May 2002

Australia's Vegetation Under the Spotlight


Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today launched two reports mapping Australia's environmental "hot spots" that he said would dramatically widen public understanding of the true state of our environment - and guide decision makers.

The Landscape Health in Australia report creates an overlay of environmental threats, including threatened animals, salinity, and the level of feral animal and weed infestation, to create a mosaic that identifies Australia's best, and worst, environmental hot-spots.

The mosaic shows that the most stressed regions are concentrated in the south-east of the continent in south-western Western Australia, the Tasmanian midlands, southern Queensland and the lowlands of Queensland's wet tropics.

The report reveals that just less than half (152) of Australia's 354 'bio-geographic' subregions are in good health, but that 37 (or 10 percent) are under stress.

The second report, Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001, brings together the best available information, maps and data on native vegetation. It is the first comprehensive, Australia-wide vegetation information system.

Both reports were funded under the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

Dr Kemp said the reports were an invaluable new resource for all Australians with a keen interest in the environment, and for decision makers.

"A real problem, in even the recent past, in managing Australia's environment has been a lack of integration of information to provide an accurate and uniform national picture of the exact nature of our worst problems, and precisely where they are," Dr Kemp said.

"These two reports are invaluable for biodiversity conservation and natural resource managers because they provide information that can inform planning decisions, and guide the strategic implementation of programs including the Government's two major environmental repair efforts - the Natural Heritage Trust and the joint Commonwealth, State and Territory $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality."

Both reports are available in hard copy by emailing info@nlwra.gov.au or faxing (02) 6257 9518 and by visiting the Environment Australia web site at: www.environment.gov.au/atlas

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia