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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister For The Environment And Heritage Robert Hill
And Queensland Environment Minister Rod Welford
16 November 1999
A habitat of national importance for threatened bats, Cammoo Caves, is being added to the Mt Etna Caves National Park, west of Rockhampton.
The caves have been acquired with funds from the Queensland Government, Pacific Lime, the Central Queensland Speleological Society and the Federal Government through the Natural Heritage Trust.
The announcement was made jointly by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Robert Hill and Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage and Natural Resources, Rod Welford.
"The addition of 35 hectares of land, including Cammoo Caves, to the Mt Etna Caves National Park will have important benefits for both conservation and the community," Mr Welford said during a ceremony at the caves today.
"It will contribute to a better balance between the conservation of significant bat populations and the enjoyment of caving enthusiasts.
"Park visitors who want to experience the spectacular limestone formations of the local caves will be able to access Cammoo Caves all year round. This will ease the pressure on the park's Johannsen's Cave, which is closed seasonally to protect a vital breeding ground of the endangered ghost bat.
"The addition of this land also conserves an important area of dry rainforest which is a feeding ground for the bat colonies and improves overall public access to the park.
"None of this would have been possible without the efforts of Pacific Lime, who have made some of the land available, and the Central Queensland Speleological Society who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.
"I am pleased the dispute over this land is now in the past and we can look forward to preserving this magnificent asset for the local community."
Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, said the purchase was an example of how private enterprise and government could work together for a positive environmental outcome.
"This area is a unique part of Australia's natural heritage and the Commonwealth is pleased to support such an important initiative," Senator Hill said.
"Cammoo Caves are the first caves to be added to Australia's national network of protected areas with the support of funding from the Natural Heritage Trust's National Reserve System Program.
"In keeping with the cooperative spirit of the Trust, this acquisition brings together a community group, industry and two levels of Government to achieve a welcome environmental outcome."
Mr Welford said the park's proximity to Rockhampton and Central Queensland University provided an exceptional opportunity for supporting research on an outstanding part of the Australian ecosystem.
"Given the long standing and high community interest in this area, there will be active community involvement in determining future management," he said.
"A Management Advisory Committee will be established next year with representatives from all key stakeholders, including the Speleological Society, Livingstone Shire Council, Capricorn Tourism and the local community.
"The first priority for the Committee will be to guide a public consultation process to help determine the most appropriate caving and recreational use of the park."
The Mt Etna Caves National Park was the scene of a highly publicised battle in the 1980s between a subsidiary of the QCL group and environmentalists opposed to mining in an area renowned for its natural beauty.
Further information: Greg Milne on 38963688 or 0417 791 336