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18 January 2009
Alpine habitat which provides a haven to threatened species and plays an important role supplying water to inland water resources as well as the worlds largest sea turtle will receive a greater level of protection under federal environment legislation, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said today.
Mr Garrett today announced the addition of the ecological community, alpine Sphagnum bogs and associated fens, as well as 18 new species and four more ecological communities to the national threatened species list.
The new listings also include nine snail species, four shrubs and three orchids and Bornemissza's stag beetle.
"By placing these species and ecological communities on the national threatened list, I am giving them increased protection, ensuring that certain projects or activities which could significantly impact on them will now need to be thoroughly assessed and approved before they can go ahead.
"It also raises awareness of their threatened status and encourages communities and natural resource management groups to develop conservation activities and projects to protect them for our future generations."
Mr Garrett said the ecological community, alpine Sphagnum bogs and associated fens, which occur in pockets in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT, was a good example of the important role such habitat areas played in the environment and why they should be protected.
"Bogs are found in permanently wet areas, such as along streams, valley edges and valley floors. This ecological community provides essential habitat for several species of nationally threatened plants and animals, in particular the southern corroboree frog and the baw baw frog which breed in the Sphagnum moss.
"And just as importantly, the bogs are an important water source to some inland water resources such as the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin," he said.
"With warmer temperatures and changing climatic conditions increasing the pressure on water availability, ecological communities such as this must be protected." Mr Garrett said he had also uplisted the world's largest sea turtle, the leatherback turtle, from vulnerable to endangered.
"The uplisting of the leatherback turtle to the endangered category is mainly due to the ongoing threats the turtle faces from unsustainable harvesting of egg and meat and pressures from commercial fishing outside Australian waters.
"Leatherback adults average around 1.6 metres in length and weigh from around 250 to 700 kilograms and are found in tropical and temperate waters around Australia off the south Queensland and New South Wales coasts and off Western Australia's coast, south of Geraldton."
Mr Garrett said the Australian Government was currently reviewing the Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia, and where appropriate, the revised plan would include more stringent measures to reflect the changes to the turtle's conservation status.
Conservation advice has been prepared for each of the new listings to help landholders, natural resource management and conservation groups to identify where the species or ecological communities are found, what action should be taken to protect them and what people can do to help.
Mr Garrett said all 18 newly listed species would fall within the critically endangered category and of the five newly listed ecological communities, two would be listed as critically endangered and three as endangered.
Many of the species and ecological communities were nominated by members of the public through the statutory nomination process and were included on the first Finalised Priority Assessment List, announced in August 2007.
The 2009 process is currently open and nominations close on 26 March 2009. Go to: www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations-make.html
The conservation advice for all listings can be found on the department's web site at: www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html