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The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts

Australian Wildlife Conservancy

World famous bird habitat protected forever

Joint media release
21 May 2010

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A world-famous bird watching property in Queensland was today added to Australia's National Reserve System, protecting the habitat of hundreds of bird species.

Not-for-profit group the Australian Wildlife Conservancy purchased the 14,000 hectare Bowra Station near Cunnamulla for conservation, with $1.2 million from the Australian Government through Caring for our Country and generous private donations.

Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett joined celebrations at the new Bowra Sanctuary today, on the eve of the International Day for Biological Diversity.

"This remarkable bird refuge is one of a kind and I'm especially delighted we could help protect it for future generations," Mr Garrett said.

"The diversity of Bowra's bird life is staggering featuring more than 200 different species, ranging from the pink Major Mitchell's cockatoo to top predators such as the grey falcon.

"Bowra's woodlands and deep waterholes are alive with rare species, including the vulnerable yakka skink, a range of river turtles and the tiny stripe-faced dunnart.

"This outback oasis feeds water to the iconic Warrego and Paroo rivers and lies in one of the most poorly conserved bioregions in the country, so protecting it is a big achievement."

Australian Wildlife Conservancy founder Martin Copley said they received generous assistance from Birds Australia, the Bird Observer's Club, Birds Queensland and AWC supporters around Australia to help protect Bowra.

"Bowra is known internationally as a 'must see' for bird-lovers visiting Australia and we look forward to it being a showcase for bird conservation into the future," Mr Copley said.

"Education and research will be a big focus for the new sanctuary - we're about to launch a baseline scientific survey of Bowra's habitat and wildlife, and we'll use the results to develop practical strategies to tackle feral animals, weeds and fire management.

"One of the things that first drew us to Bowra was its remarkable condition - it's been carefully managed for decades by the one pastoral family, and we're continuing to draw on their local knowledge and experience."

Former owners Ian and Julie McLaren said Bowra has been home to five generations of the McLaren family, so the decision to sell was tough. "Our family has cared for this spot for generations, and we've always known it was something special. Deciding to sell was hard, but offering it to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy felt like the right way to go," Mr McLaren said.

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