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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

20 August 2002

Kemp Acts to Protect Australia's Biodiversity Through "Hotspots" Program

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced that he is taking action to boost protection for Australia’s threatened plants and animals by initiating a new research program on biodiversity hotspots.

The program is a world first for ensuring biodiversity protection on a continental scale.

“This new program will identify regions of Australia that should be considered priority areas for Natural Heritage Trust projects due to the richness of their biodiversity, presence of rare or threatened species or where the need for managing the conservation values of an area is particularly acute,” Dr Kemp said.

Dr Kemp will be writing to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to undertake the research that will inform the program and will be providing them with an extra $50,000 from the Commonwealth Government’s Natural Heritage Trust to assist with the work.

Dr Kemp’s announcement follows a meeting yesterday with world renowned biodiversity expert Dr Thomas Lovejoy, who last year addressed the Prime Minister’s Science and Engineering Innovation Council on biodiversity conservation priorities.

“The Howard Government recognises the importance of biodiversity research in contributing to Australia’s system-wide knowledge of our most essential ecosystems.

“It is also exciting to hear from world experts, such as Dr Lovejoy, that the Howard Government is right on the frontier of biodiversity protection.

“Australia is one of the world’s most biologically diverse nations with an estimated 500,000 different species across Australia, and new species being found all the time.

“As a nation we face a great challenge to understand and protect our natural ecosystems. This new program will identify and conserve biodiversity hotspots on a continental scale, which is a world first in biodiversity protection,” Dr Kemp said.

Media contacts:
Catherine Job for Dr Kemp (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Michael Kennedy for Dr Lovejoy 0416 215 517

Commonwealth of Australia