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

March 22 2003

Commonwealth Government Supports Barkindji Biosphere Reserve Nomination

Dr Sharman Stone, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, today announced $500,000 towards the purchase of Ned's Corner Station by the Trust for Nature (Victoria) and $215,000 towards the development of the nomination for UNESCO of the Barkindji Biosphere Reserve by the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens.

The proposed Barkindji Biosphere Reserve covers an area of around 50,000 hectares, extending 27 kilometres along the floodplains and wetlands of the Murray River past the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens and through open plains to Mallee and Spinifex country to the north. This corridor links the Murray and Darling River environments and encompasses a rich mosaic of regional land vegetation and animal communities.

"Biosphere reserves are areas that are set aside to conserve terrestrial or coastal ecosystems. In some ways they serve as 'living laboratories' for testing and demonstrating sustainable practices to produce integrated management of land, water and biodiversity," said Dr Stone.

"A major contribution to the biosphere reserve will be through the inclusion of Ned's Corner Station. Some of the key natural values of this property of more than 29,000 hectares include 35 km corridor of River Red Gum along its northern boundary, threatened vegetation and landscape types including Mallee and Black Box woodlands, and rare or threatened species including Bush Stone Curlews, Regent Parrots and Chestnut-crowned Babblers."

In announcing the funding at the end of a two day workshop held between the Trust for Nature, the Nature Conservancy and the Australian Inland Botanic Garden Consortium, Dr Stone welcomed both initiatives as being important at the local, regional, State and National levels.

"The development of the Barkindji Biosphere Reserve, including the purchase of Ned's Corner, reflects an integrated approach to sustainable land use. The area has significant conservation, social and economic assets and values that need to be managed and developed in an integrated way," Dr Stone said.

"The addition of this property means that since 1996 some 18 million hectares have been added to the Natural Heritage Trust's National Reserve System. This program strategically purchases high biodiversity land for environmental conservation purposes," Dr Stone said.

Mr John Irwin, the local driving force behind the proposed Barkindji Biosphere welcomed the Commonwealth's support. "This support from the Commonwealth Government will allow us to take the Barkindji Biosphere from a community vision into a reality. This is a significant amount of money for the Mildura community," he said.

Dr Michael Looker, Director for the Trust for Nature (Victoria) said, "Securing Ned's Corner Station has created the largest private conservation reserve in Victoria and Trust for Nature is delighted that this area is being included in the National Reserve System."

Dr Stone also acknowledged the additional support the project had received. "We must also thank many of the local landholders, LaTrobe University, the Myer Foundation, Earth Watch, the Trust for Nature, Birds Australia, CSIRO and the local and State Governments involved."

Dr Stone's Office: Anna Hughes 0408 697 055

Commonwealth of Australia