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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
South Australian Minister for Environment and Conservation
Minister for the River Murray
18 November 2002
Wetlands at the renowned Banrock Station, located in South Australia's Riverland have been designated as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the world's peak wetland conservation treaty.
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the South Australian Minister for Environment and Conservation, Mr John Hill, today congratulated Banrock Station for their outstanding achievement.
"Banrock Station is the first internationally important wetland site to be designated in South Australia that is entirely located on private land," Dr Kemp said.
"The designation, announced today at the 8th Ramsar Conference of Contracting Parties in Valencia, Spain, acknowledges the wetlands' international significance as habitat for threatened and migratory species on the River Murray floodplain.
"It provides homes for two nationally vulnerable species - the Regent Parrot and the Southern Bell Frog.
"The Banrock Station wetlands also support 159 bird species, including several migratory birds - the Great Egret, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Greenshank, Red-necked Stint, Long-toed Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Fork-tailed Swift and Caspian Tern - and provide a passage for fish to bypass the Lock Three fish barrier during times of flood," Dr Kemp said.
Mr Hill said that with so few undamaged wetlands left along the River Murray in South Australia, the Banrock Station wetlands site would become an increasingly important biodiversity reservoir for the surrounding area, and an example for other environmental rehabilitation projects.
"Banrock Station wetlands are being restored and are an important site for many significant species of plants and animals and play a key role in preserving the environmental health of the River Murray and in educating the public," Mr Hill said.
"This designation is an acknowledgement of Banrock Station's foresight in protecting 1,375 hectares of ecologically significant land, including 1,068 hectares of River Murray floodplain wetlands.
"Wetlands are vital parts of a healthy river system, helping to reduce sediment and nutrient loads as well as providing a breeding ground for birds, fish, frogs, tortoises and other fauna.
"I congratulate Banrock Station for setting a good example for other businesses by protecting the environment, while at the same time developing a tourist attraction which generates interest in its products and educates the community about wetlands," Mr Hill said.
Banrock Station was announced earlier this year as the winner of the 2002 Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award and the Evian Special Prize of $18,000, which it donated to support the programmes of the Ramsar Convention in developing countries. The award will be formally presented at the conference of parties in Valencia today.
The Convention on Wetlands was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. It is the oldest international conservation agreement to promote the concept of sustainable use. The Convention has 133 Contracting Parties, with 1,200 wetland sites, totalling 103.3 million hectares worldwide. The theme of the eighth conference is 'Wetlands: Water, Life and Culture'.
The Australian Government has designated six wetlands and one extension for inclusion on the List of Internationally Important Wetlands at the eighth conference. This has increased the total number of Australian Ramsar wetlands from 57 to 63.
The other sites designated are four sites managed by the Commonwealth Government -Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve, Coral Sea Reserves, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve and The Dales (Christmas Island), as well as one site on Crown land in New South Wales - Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps. The extension is to the Kooragang Nature Reserve, which now includes Shortland Wetlands and has been renamed the Hunter Estuary Wetlands.
For more information on wetlands please visit http://www.ea.gov.au/water/wetlands/about.html and for more information on the Ramsar Convention please visit http://www.ea.gov.au/water/wetlands/ramsar/index.html
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Nick Talbot (Mr Hill's office) 08 8463 3463 or 0422 004 434
Tony Sharley (Banrock Station) 0418 808 475