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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Queensland Minister for the Environment,Local Government, Planning and Women
Desley Boyle

15 June 2006

Landowners partner with Government to protect Queensland's biodiversity


Eleven Queensland landowners are the first to receive a cash incentive through the Beattie Government’s NatureAssist programme to protect the world-class environments on their properties as nature refuges.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Queensland Minister for the Environment, Desley Boyle, today announced the funding and an agreement was signed with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to create Queensland’s newest nature refuge - Brooklyn Nature Refuge, 125km north-west of Cairns.

“The Nature Refuge programme is terrific in that it allows landowners to retain control of their land, while protecting it forever. The NatureAssist programme builds on that by offering financial incentives to landowners to sign up,” Ms Boyle said.

“The owners of these eleven new nature refuges will receive a total of about $470,000 and will protect more than 120,000ha,” she said.

“Brooklyn Nature Refuge is a magnificent property, covering 60,000 hectares, including 5000 hectares which are World Heritage-listed,” Senator Campbell said.

“It was purchased in July 2004 by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy with $4.5 million from the Australian Governments Biodiversity Hotspots Programme.

“It adjoins Mt Lewis Forest Reserve and forms a massive corridor linking Mt Windsor Forest Reserve and the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park. It covers almost 50km of the Mitchell River and its adjacent lagoons and floodplains.

“It is truly a “biodiversity hotspot” with arguably the greatest diversity of wildlife of any property in Australia,” he said.

Almost 500 native mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species are expected to be found on Brooklyn Nature Refuge. In comparison, Kakadu National Park is home to 482 species. The property contains 71 ecosystems, forty of which are threatened.

These first ‘incentives’ were provided under the pilot NatureAssist programme, funded by the Australian Government Biodiversity Hotspots Programme, the Queensland Vegetation Incentives Programme and three Natural Resource Management groups.

Following the successful pilot, owners of environmentally-significant land have until June 30 to be considered for a cash incentive to make their land a nature refuge under the first round of NatureAssist.

The new nature refuges announced today range in size from 4ha-60,000ha and protect a variety of environments including artesian springs, blacksoil plains, eucalypt areas and animals such as the endangered black-breasted button-quail, the Lewin’s honeyeater and the black-striped wallaby.

Ms Boyle said nature refuges were a great way for private landholders to play a part in protecting natural habitat.

“The EPA provides advice and help to nature refuge owners to manage threats from tree-clearing, development pressures, salinity, weeds and feral animals,” Ms Boyle said.

“Natural resources on nature refuges can still be used for activities such as grazing or eco-tourism, provided it is done in an environmentally-friendly way.

“The EPA’s partners in nature refuges include some of the nation’s biggest pastoralists and miners, not-for-profit conservancies, eco-tourism operators, councils and farmers and graziers.

“I congratulate these people who have committed to working on the ground with the EPA to save environmentally-significant parts of their property,” she said.

Already, there are more than 200 nature refuges, covering almost 465,000ha in Queensland ranging in size from 1ha-215,000ha.

Nature refuge owners can also have their transfer duty and land tax reimbursed under NatureAssist.

Senator Campbell congratulated the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on entering into a conservation agreement that will protect Brooklyn in perpetuity.

More information is at www.epa.qld.gov.au/naturerefuge

Read the media release by Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Attached is a list of other nature refuges.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield (Senator Campbell) 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902
Carissa Mason (Minister Boyle) 07 3227 8819


Other new nature refuges

Calingunee Nature Refuge

A 155ha block of remnant vegetation on the property Calingunee, a beef cattle enterprise owned by William Hamilton, located about 30km south of Moonie in the Western Downs in the Brigalow Belt South bioregion. The landscape is characterised by low hills and ridges and broad valleys and supports a variety of woodland types on the valley floor and includes permanent waterholes in the creek, which provide excellent wildlife habitat. Two notable regional ecosystems are conserved on the property – an endangered regional ecosystem dominated by Casuarina (Casuarina cristate) and an ‘of concern’ ecosystem dominated by Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla).

Carnarvon Station Nature Refuge

A 59,000ha property of grassy woodlands, dramatic sandstone cliffs, natural springs and great expanses of native grassland owned by Australian Bush Heritage Fund and situated in the Brigalow Belt South Bioregion of central Queensland, next to Carnarvon National Park. Funds received from the NatureAssist pilot will be used to fence off several artesian springs on the property from feral animals including pigs that have caused degradation to these areas of high conservation significance.

“Fair Hills” Nature Refuge

The Marriage family has secured nearly 46ha of their property, Fair Hills, as a nature refuge.

Markwells Road Nature Refuge

The Carlyle family, owners the property ‘Wonga Hills” have set aside over 200ha of it as a nature refuge. It is located north of Chinchilla within the Boyne River sub-catchment of the Burnett River, and has been managed as an agricultural and beef cattle enterprise for 21 years. It features an intact remnant scrub with a 29ha semi-evergreen vine thicket understorey dominated by large emergent brigalow and belah. It adjoins eucalypt forest country enhancing the connectivity for breeding and movement provided by a vegetation corridor trending north-east and south-west, including Jarrah/ Barakula and Koko State Forests. Endangered black-breasted button-quail (Turnix melanogaster) have been sighted at the Wonga Hills property giving hope that they live in the remnant. The Carlyles will use NatureAssist funds to fence off this 200ha, protecting it from cattle which may enter from the adjoining grazing lands. Protection of this property will also protect the catchment values of the Cooragar Creek sub-catchment within the Burnett River basin.

Mount Pleasant Nature Refuge

The Gordon family have owned the Mount Pleasant property for over 80 years. In 2005, they made a decision to protect 813ha of it through a nature refuge. Recently, through the NatureAssist pilot scheme they dedicated a further 630ha. It is about 40km southwest of Bowen in the Brigalow Belt. With two neighbouring nature refuges - Aberdeen and Homehaven - Mount Pleasant forms a vital vegetation link forming a continuous corridor between rare and threatened upland notophyll/microphyll mossy forest species of Mount Aberdeen and Highlanders Bonnet National Park and the riparian communities of the Bogie River.

Myall Park Nature Refuge

It is located on the black soil plains of the eastern Darling Downs, 3km east-southeast of Jondaryan. Owners of this 16ha nature refuge, Lindsay and Joanne Evans, have managed their property ‘Sorrelvale’ as an agricultural and beef cattle enterprise for over 70 years. A complexity of regional ecosystems is found on the property including ‘of concern’ poplar box woodland. The Nature Refuge protects one of the largest intact remnants of Corymbia woodland regional ecosystems known to occur in the local district which provides habitat for a suite of woodland bird species including the vulnerable painted honeyeater Grantiella picta. Doctor’s Creek, a sub-catchment of the Condamine River, intersects the property, and is a refuge for grassland species including ground dwelling reptiles and dunnarts.

Boyneside Nature Refuge

Peter and Moira Curtain have owned and operated the Old Boyneside property as a beef cattle enterprise since 1922. The Curtains now run a farmstay, which is an important part of property enterprise and visitors from Australia and overseas are hosted on the property most weeks of the year. The property is located 50km northeast of Dalby within the Boyne River sub catchment of the Burnett River. A 250ha patch of remnant vegetation on the property is the core of the new nature refuge. The remnant is in good condition and has a mosaic of ‘Endangered’ and ‘Of Concern’ vegetation communities. The endangered community represents the largest single intact remnant known to occur, based on current mapping. This remnant is in excellent condition, a tribute to the care the Curtain family have taken in preserving it through the years. The property provides habitat for a suite of dry vine thicket related fauna species including brush turkey, Lewin’s honeyeater, speckled warbler, yellow robin, white throated treecreeper and black striped wallaby.

C.R. “George” Telford Nature Refuge

The Warrowa property is a mixed, beef cattle/grain cropping property and has been grazed by livestock – formerly sheep, now almost exclusively cattle – since development in the 1930s. The original owner of the property, George Telford, left a network of connecting strips and patches of vegetation on the property which have been retained and form the basis of this 1200ha nature refuge. To commemorate Mr Telford’s conservation vision, current owners Warren and Lynelle Urquhart have made the decision to name this new nature refuge after him. The entire property is next to Southwood National Park, about 30km west of Moonie in the Brigalow Belt and covers about 3601ha.

W.R. and D.M.J. Carter Nature Refuge

This nature refuge covers 2100ha on the property “Well Station”, located about 50km southwest of Munduberra in the Brigalow Belt South bioregion. The property has been in the Carter family for three generations and has been operated predominantly as a beef cattle property. The family have a strong desire to preserve the remaining remnant vegetation. The nature refuge will protect the endangered regional ecosystem dominated by Brigalow. Brigalow is not only the name of this silvery wattle and the endangered ecological community, but also the entire bioregion. These communities have undergone extensive clearing for agricultural purposes and are listed nationally as endangered. Previously these communities covered 7 million hectares in Queensland, however only 660,000ha remain. It is critical these last areas of the ecosystem are preserved.

Tallaroo Spring Nature Refuge

Barry and Shonnay Smith have long recognised the important ecological values of their property Tallaroo Station, especially the terraced mound springs. Located in the Einasleigh Bioregion, this 4ha nature refuge will also protect a healthy population of the endangered plant salt pipewort.

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