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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
embargo for Saturday September 21
The protection of Australia's wetlands has been given a $400,000 boost with the announcement of a National Wetlands Research and Development Program.
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the program will investigate the wide range of threats to Australia's wetlands.
Senator Hill says the program represents a landmark in wetlands conservation and management in Australia.
"The soon to be released 1996 State of the Environment Report reveals that wetlands are among our most threatened ecosystems.
"In some parts of the country we have destroyed more than 70 per cent of the wetlands and nationally it is estimated that at least 50 per cent are gone. Those that remain face a range of threats that in many cases we are uncertain how to control."
Senator Hill's announcement comes on the eve of the world's largest gathering of wetland experts at the 5th INTECOL (International Association of Ecology) Conference in Perth. Several hundred wetland researchers from around the world will attend this conference which has the theme of 'Wetlands for the Future'.
"There is a new global recognition that wetlands are a vital part of our ecology and economy. They are also critical to maintaining biodiversity.
"As water management issues become more pressing around the world it is essential that we have the answers to wetland management on hand and being applied.
"The information presented and shared next week in Perth on how we should be managing our precious wetlands will provide the ideal launching point for our new research program."
The National Wetlands Research and Development Program will provide support for a range of national research and development projects. The priorities have been developed over the past 12 months in a scoping study involving some of Australia's leading wetland scientists. The study identified a number of issues for attention under the Program including water regimes, habitat modification, weeds and feral animals, monitoring, wetland valuation and technology transfer.
The program is a joint initiative of the Federal Department of the Environment and the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC).
Further information: Alison Shepherd, (Department) 06 2500798 or 06 2591098 AH
Phil Price, (LWRRDC) 06 257 3379