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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

2 February 2005

Funds for Australia's waterbirds on World Wetlands Day


Protecting wetlands is a high priority for the Australian Government in the fight to conserve Australia's water birds, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Marking World Wetlands Day with the launch of The State of Australia's Birds 2004: Water, Wetlands and Birds at the Western Australian Wetlands Management Conference at Bibra Lake, Senator Campbell said wetland birds across Australia had been particularly hard hit by drought.

“Many of our major wetlands are in trouble, and their decline spells trouble for water birds,” he said.

“This report by Birds Australia, supported by the Natural Heritage Trust, highlights how species like the nationally threatened Australian Painted Snipe depend on a network of wetlands to survive.

“Protecting water birds means conserving and protecting their habitat, which is why I am pleased to announce further funding of $60,000 today for the Peel-Harvey System. The system is part of WA's Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar wetland — a vital area that supports more than 20,000 waterbirds.”

The $60,000 announced today as part of the Natural Heritage Trust's Coastal Catchments Initiative is in addition to the $1.6 million already committed to protect water quality in the Peel-Harvey System. Under the national Coastal Catchments Initiatives, water quality improvement plans are being developed to improve coastal wetland ecosystems throughout Australia.

Congratulating authors Dr Penny Olsen and Dr Michael Weston, Senator Campbell said The State of Australia's Birds acknowledged that the Australian Government was taking the lead on the critical issue of water reform, and was also working closely with countries in the region to protect internationally migratory birds and their habitats.

“This report provides vital information for us to better target conservation efforts and funding,” he said.

World Wetlands Day (WWD) is celebrated each year on 2 February to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. This year's theme is Cultural and Biological Diversity of Wetlands.

A link to the report is available online at www.deh.gov.au/water/wetlands/day. For more information about WWD, go to www.deh.gov.au/water/wetlands/day. The Department of the Environment and Heritage's Coastal Catchments Initiative is found online at www.deh.gov.au/coasts/pollution/cci. For more information on work underway to protect Australia's waterways through the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust, visit www.nrm.gov.au .

Media contact:
Senator Campbell's office: Renae Stoikos on 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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