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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

2 February 2000


Kerang Wetlands, an internationally recognised wildlife reserve, is one of Australia's reasons for celebrating World Wetlands Day, Sharman Stone MP, Federal Member for Murray, said today.

"Australia currently has 53 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, covering a total area of over five million hectares. Three of these - Barmah Forest, Gunbower Forest and Kerang Wetlands - are part of Federal Electorate of Murray's unique landscape," Sharman Stone said.

Kerang Wetlands, listed as a RAMSAR site in 1982, covers 9,419 hectares and includes 22 swamps and lakes. The Wetland is part of the irrigation supply system for local farmers, as well as a drought refuge for native and migratory waterbirds.

Along with Barmah Forest, Kerang Lakes have the largest Ibis rookeries in the world.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February each year and marks the date of the signing of the International Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

Sharman Stone said the Federal Government had recently boosted Wetlands protection with passage of the new Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999.

"For the first time, matters of national environmental significance, including RAMSAR listed wetlands, will be subject to Commonwealth overview," Sharman Stone said.

"Recently the Federal Government committed funds to trial a new minimal harvesting scheme near Lake Tuchewop. This can be done without causing problems for the great Kerang Wetlands flora and fauna," Sharman Stone said.

The Federal Government also provides funding through the $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust to promote the conservation, repair and wise use of wetlands across Australia.

"This year the Federal Government has granted $75,000 for the development of the Kerang - Swan Hill Salinity Management Plan to target flows, fencing requirements and vegetation works in the Kerang Lakes area," Sharman Stone said.

"To help implement the plan's recommendations, $20,294 has been budgeted for the construction of nine new outlets and five inlets on the semi permanent wetland. Controlling the inflow and outflow of water and regular flushing will help restore the natural flow regime and reduce salinity levels that have been affecting fish and breeding birds."

"A further $60,000 will be invested in implementing recommendations made in the Lake Elizabeth Wetland Management Strategy."

"This year's round of NHT applications (2000-2001) are now open. I encourage CMA's, councils and community groups in the area to nominate projects to help Kerang Wetlands maintain their unique character," Sharman Stone said.

To obtain a Guide to New Applicants telephone freecall 1800 065 823 or on-line at Applications close on 25 February 2000.

Media Inquiries:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia