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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

21 July 2002

Kemp Acts to Protect Unusual Species


The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced the addition of five unusual species of plants and animals to the national list of threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

'All too often public attention is focussed on animals which are seen as cute and lovable,' Dr Kemp said.

'But while these species are not widely known, they play a role in their local ecosystems and are an integral part of Australia's rich diversity of plant and animal species.

'The listing of these species under Commonwealth legislation will help to prevent their further decline and reflects the Commonwealth's recognition of the importance of their conservation values.

'The Lord Howe Island Phasmid, a large black stick insect, which has been described as looking like a walking spaghetti, was thought to be extinct until three live individuals were found on Ball's Pyramid last year. It is believed that the introduction of rats to Lord Howe Island in 1918 contributed to the species' demise and the surviving population is likely to be less than 10 individuals.

'The Nightcap Oak is a tall rainforest tree with walnut like fruit. There are less than 60 individuals left, found in a single location in rainforest habitat, on Nightcap Range in northern NSW. It is extremely vulnerable to fire or any other kind of disturbance such as road construction or forest activities.

'The other newly listed species include the Christmas Island Spleenwort which is a small, bright green ground dwelling fern, currently only found growing in the Christmas Island National Park; the Mitchell's Rainforest Snail, a large land snail whose shell is deep reddish chestnut to black in colour with two prominent yellow bands, once wide spread, it is now restricted to a small nature reserve in northern New South Wales; and the Border Heath, an attractive but tough looking shrub that is covered by dense white flowers in late spring and summer. The Border Heather is a plant species that is only found in Tasmania, which has been devastated by the root-rot fungus.

'Listing under Commonwealth legislation will help increase awareness of these threatened species in the Community. Recovery plans will also be developed in consultation with stakeholders to help manage the species into the future,' Dr Kemp said.

Under the EPBC Act, listed species are considered to be a matter of National Environmental Significance. As a consequence, any activity that has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on them may need to be assessed and approved by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

For more information on Australia's threatened species please contact Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on freecall 1800 803 772 or visit the web site at www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html

Lord Howe Island Phasmid

Lord Howe Island Phasmid (Image: CSIRO Entomology)

Nightcap Oak leaf

Nightcap Oak

Christmas Island Spleenwort

Christmas Island Spleenwort

Media contact:
Frank Jackson (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 545 070

Commonwealth of Australia