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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

FUNDING BOOST FOR NARACOORTE CAVES


10 May 1998
(48/98SA)

The Howard government has announced a range of projects to protect and manage South Australia's World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves.

Environment Minister Robert Hill says the projects will also help scientists develop a better understanding of the region.

Senator Hill says the Naracoorte Caves have received a significant funding increase under the Coalition.

"The projects we are announcing today will deliver $414,000 from the 1997/98 budget to the Naracoorte Caves. In the final year of the ALP government the Naracoorte Caves received only $60,000.

"This week's Federal Budget will again show our commitment to our world heritage regions with total funding for the eight State-managed properties remaining significantly above what labor provided in its final year in office.

"With the help of the Natural Heritage Trust, Australia is now in a better position than ever to enhance the protection and management of Naracoorte Caves."

Senator Hill says the fossils in Naracoorte Caves provide a valuable record of climate change over the last 1.8 million years and the impacts of this on the plants and animals in this country.

"This funding will continue the fascinating work being undertaken by scientists to date these fossils and unravel the climate record from stalagmite growth rings.

"Further work will also be done on identifying and describing now extinct species which include "megafaunal" giants such as flesh-eating Marsupial Lions, horse-sized clawed animals with elephant-like trunks and giant anaconda-like snakes.

"This research will give us further information about this intriguing World Heritage site and Australia's unique fauna."

Senator Hill says eco-tourism in the region will also benefit from the projects.

"Visitors will benefit from the funding of upgraded camping facilities at the caves, including the construction of a shower and toilet block, camp kitchen and dormitory. Car parking facilities at Victoria Fossil Cave are also being improved.

"Funding these projects will allow more people from both within Australia and internationally to explore and appreciate this World Heritage area."

Funding is also being provided to develop an interactive multi-media display that will provide information about Naracoorte caves not just for on-site visitors but through the world wide web.

The funding for Naracoorte Caves is part of $7.3 million of Commonwealth funding for the management of eight world heritage areas. Senator Hill today announced funding for a wide range of projects in the Wet Tropics, Shark Bay, Tasmanian Wilderness, Fraser Island, Willandra Lakes, Lord Howe Island, Riversleigh and Naracoorte Fossil sites, and the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves in NSW and Queensland.

Media contact - Matt Brown on 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515

May 10, 1998
48/98SA

Commonwealth of Australia