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

18 October 2006

Australian Government's National Reserve System programme gets top marks


The Australian Government's National Reserve System (NRS) Programme has been lauded as an outstanding flagship of biodiversity conservation, according to an independent evaluation released today.

Since 1997, the NRS has seen more than 10 per cent of the continent's land set aside for conservation and protection of Australia's unique wildlife.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today released the evaluation by the former Director-General of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Mr Brian Gilligan.

“We set up the National Reserve System Programme in 1997, under the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust, to accelerate the protection of Australia's unique landscapes, and their flora and fauna for future generations,” Senator Campbell said.

“Since then we have invested more than $80 million to build and grow the National Reserve System, adding 21 million hectares to the nation's protected land areas, bringing the total area of protected reserves to almost 11 per cent% of the continent.

“Our unprecedented investment in the NRS has leveraged a further $90 million from conservation groups, private landholders and state and territory governments to purchase properties that are home to a myriad threatened species and precious landscapes.

“This independent report praises the program success and vindicates the cost effectiveness of the Government's investment.”

The Gilligan report found that the National Reserve System Programme is based on good science and appropriately targets ecosystems that are poorly protected.

It also praised the Programme for fostering the involvement of non-government organisations with governments in what has become one of the most ambitious and wide ranging national reserve programs of its type in the world, while delivering enduring on-ground conservation outcomes.

“We've improved biodiversity conservation in more than 50 of Australia's 85 bioregions,” Senator Campbell said.

“Under the Howard Government's stewardship the area protected in perpetuity under private and public management has grown by 25 per cent - this compares with a growth of just 1 per cent under the previous Labor Government's meagre $5 million investment.”

Senator Campbell has asked his Department to implement relevant recommendations that strengthen the National Reserve System Programme as a priority.

“Faced with the need to prepare our environment and its plants and animals to adapt to some inevitable impacts of climate change, and other threats to our unique wildlife, this is a farsighted investment.

“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.

“This is an achievement of which all Australians can be proud.”

For the full evaluation report, visit http://www.deh.gov.au/parks/nrs/evaluation/index.html

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia