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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

27 October 2002

Beautiful Arid Landscapes of State's Far West Protected Forever in New National Park


Today the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, announced the establishment of the State's newest National Park - the Paroo Darling National Park - which will protect some of Australia's most extraordinary arid landscapes in Far Western NSW.

The new 230,000 hectare Park, to the north of Wilcannia and White Cliffs, is made up of seven properties which have been jointly purchased by the Federal and State Governments, with two thirds of the funding coming from the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust and the remainder contributed by the State Government.

These properties were specifically purchased for addition to the National Reserve System, which aims to protect special places that represent the full range of ecosystems across the continent. Under the Natural Heritage Trust the Commonwealth Government makes funds available to assist State and local governments and non-government organisations purchase land for protection.

"The establishment of these parks will protect habitats that are currently under represented in the existing parks and reserves in the region including extensive areas of river red gum, black box, bluebush and important grasslands," Dr Kemp said.

"This region protects important areas of seasonal wetlands which provide a haven for tens of thousands of water birds including many migratory species which are listed for protection under international agreements.

"The Park covers more than 80 kilometres frontage to the Paroo Overflow - the last wild river in the Murray-Darling River system," Mr Carr said.

The creation of the new Paroo Darling National Park comes with the declaration by NSW Premier, Bob Carr of a string of new and additions to existing western reserves.

"A total of more than 350,000 hectares - an area almost the size of the ACT - of world class arid and semi-arid landscapes and wetlands of high conservation value have been protected forever," Mr Carr said.

"Western NSW is home to an extraordinary array of waterbirds and threatened and rare plant and animal species.

"Only 2.3 per cent of the region is currently protected in the reserve system. This announcement increases by almost 25 per cent the amount of land protected in western NSW."

"This area is also important to indigenous people containing many Aboriginal cultural heritage sites," Mr Carr said.

Mr Carr said Gundabooka National Park (located 50 km SW of Bourke) would also be increased by 50 per cent to around 65,000 hectares.

"This park is home to some hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and mammals.

"The area is also rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage, with significant rock art by the Ngemba people.

"Mungo National Park in the State's southwest - internationally recognised as the home of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area - has been more than tripled in size to 89,000 hectares.

"The park has global significance in the study of ancient climatic processes, and holds the longest record for continuous Aboriginal occupation on the Australian continent at 60,000 years."

A new 22,000 hectares national park has been created at Oolembeyan on the Hay Plain, protecting several rare and endangered bird species.

The new 16,000 hectares Ledknapper Nature Reserve north east of Bourke, has also been created through joint Federal and State Government funding under the National Reserve System.

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

Commonwealth of Australia