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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray
4 April 2002
Unique bushland of significant botanical and cultural value in the New England region is to be conserved with the declaration of New South Wales' first Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).
Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, congratulated the Banbai people on their decision to manage and conserve the "Wattleridge" property for the protection and conservation of its natural and cultural values.
"The Wattleridge IPA comprises 480 hectares of unique bushland on outcropping granite. It is the last remaining remnant not so far protected in the New England region," Dr Stone said at a ceremony at Wattleridge to mark the declaration.
"At least 12 rare or endangered fauna species and 15 flora species have been found, or are expected to occur within the Wattleridge IPA. The areas protection from logging, grazing and fire for nearly 30 years means the vegetation is very special in the IPA".
Some of the rare and threatened floral species that make Wattleridge so valuable include several shrubs such as Woolly Cryptandra and Black Holly Grevillia, and two species of eucalypt including the New England Mallee, and New England Brachyloma.
The Glossy Black Cockatoo, the Masked Owl and the Spotted-Tailed Quoll are just three of the fauna species currently listed as threatened but which have been found at Wattleridge.
"The Wattleridge IPA contains the only recorded axe grinding groove sites and fully recorded art sites in the local area. The area is of tremendous importance to the Banbai community," Dr Stone said. The Wattleridge property was purchased in 1998 for the Banbai Land Enterprises by the Indigenous Land Corporation in recognition of its cultural significance for the local Aboriginal community and its potential for development of small-scale businesses, particularly ecotourism.
The Banbai community hopes to make the Wattleridge property self-sufficient. As part of the IPA program small business enterprises will be developed to help provide employment and extra funds for environmental management. Plant propagation and the promotion of Wattleridge as a tourist destination are proposed.
The Indigenous Protected Areas program is part of the National Reserve System Program that aims to establish a network of protected areas that includes a representative sample of all types of ecosystems across the country. There is now at least one in every State and the Northern Territory. The program supports Indigenous landowners to manage their lands for the protection of natural and cultural features for the benefit of all Australians according to internationally recognised standards and guidelines.
The Indigenous Protected Areas Program and National Reserve System Program are part of the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust.
"Through this declaration the Banbai people will work with the Federal Government to protect and conserve this precious area of land for the future benefit all Australians - real practical reconciliation.
"I thank the Banbai people for their generosity and forward thinking and wish them every success with their future enterprises," Dr Stone said.
Contact: Simon Frost (Dr Stone) 0419 495 468
Deborah Nesbitt (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1403
Thursday April 4, 2002
Chairman of Banbai Land Enterprises Mr John Patterson and Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage Dr Sharman Stone sign the Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area Declaration.
Chairman of Banbai Land Enterprises Mr John Patterson and Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage Dr Sharman Stone officially launch the Wattleridge IPA.