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

9 November 2006

11% of Australia protected – high praise from WWF

A landmark report by WWF-Australia has hailed Australia’s National Reserve System as the nation’s premier investment in biodiversity conservation.

The report, Building Nature’s Safety Net, was launched in Canberra today by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell.

“This safety net now comprises almost 11 per cent of our land mass and I’m delighted that WWF is singing its achievements.”

“Australia’s National Reserve System is one of the most ambitious conservation efforts in the world, yet it is one of our best kept secrets,” Senator Campbell said.

“This nation-wide network of reserves is especially set up to protect examples of Australia’s unique landscapes, flora and fauna for current and future generations.

“They are indeed ‘nature’s safety net’ - an environment lifebelt for plants and animals as they adapt to climate change and through their important contribution to the water cycles of our dry continent.

The National Reserve System is made up of all national parks, 22 Indigenous Protected Areas, hundreds of privately-owned reserves managed by conservation NGO s and others, and thousands of private properties under perpetual conservation covenants.

WWF has also identified the Top 10 Protected Areas. I’m pleased to see that the first to receive this award for outstanding conservation management is Booderee National Park, which is jointly managed by the Australian Government with its Indigenous owners, the Wreck Bay Community.”

Senator Campbell said the WWF report highlighted the environmental leadership of the Australian Government in developing the National Reserve System over the past decade.

“In 1997 we set up the National Reserve System Programme to accelerate the conservation effort. Since then we have invested more than $87 million, adding 21 million hectares to the nation’s protected land areas,” Senator Campbell said.

“Under the Howard Government’s stewardship the area protected forever under private and public management has grown by 25 per cent – compared with a growth of just 1 per cent under the previous Labor Government’s meagre $5 million investment.”

Building Australia’s Safety Net highlights the outstanding cost-effectiveness of investments under the Australian Government’s National Reserve System Programme. Every dollar has leveraged at least another dollar from private conservancy groups, NGOs and state and territory governments to develop the reserve system.

“As WWF points out, the Australian Government’s partnerships with conservation NGOs, Indigenous owners and the private sector are the key to developing the reserve system,” Senator Campbell said.

“Indigenous owners have added 14 million hectares of Aboriginal lands to the National Reserve System over the last decade and private landholders are managing their lands for conservation whilst still running profitable businesses.

“Nowhere else in the world has a national Government joined with so many partners in a concerted strategy to conserve examples of all the country’s important environments.

“At the same time, the National Reserve System has generated economic dividends as well. In 2005, nature-based tourism alone earned $9.3 billion from 3.4 million international tourists.”

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia