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

1 September 1999

SPRINGING INTO BIODIVERSITY


Australia's unique and fragile biodiversity is under the microscope this month with a series of public seminars being held at the CSIRO Discovery complex at Black Mountain in Canberra.

Speaking at the official launch of the seminar series, Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, said Australia was regarded as a 'mega-diverse' nation, one of only 12 in the world, despite being the oldest, driest and flattest continent on earth.

"There really couldn't be a better time than the first day of Spring and National Wattle Day to celebrate the beauty and importance of Australia's unique biodiversity," Dr Stone said.

"Wattle for example is a marvellous reflection of the depth and value of our national biodiversity. Worldwide there are over 1500 species of wattle, of which almost 900 are found only in Australia."

"It is one of our most recognisable plants, part of our Coat of Arms, and is also the inspiration for our national colours," Dr Stone said.

Dr Stone said September was a great month to celebrate Australia's 'mega-diversity', with Spring blossoming around the country.

"We are still discovering a lot of new information about Australia's biodiversity. For example, this week, the Spiny Daisy, thought to have been extinct since 1910 was re-discovered by a South Australian farmer in his back paddock."

"Sadly, we have also lost many of our precious native animals, plants and birds through unsustainable development. The good news is that it is everyday people: farmers, community groups, mum and dads, seniors and schools, who are now leading the charge for the sustainable use and development of our natural resources," Dr Stone said.

Dr Stone said much of the work being done to preserve and protect Australia's biodiversity was being done with help from the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

"Getting involved with a local Natural Heritage Trust project is a great way for the community to help protect and restore Australia's unique biodiversity. If you have a good idea about how you or your community can help we want to know about it."

"Applications for grants will be called in October, so now is the time to start thinking about how you can help. More information is available by calling the Trust freecall hotline on 1800 065 823."

"Biodiversity month is all about raising awareness about the importance of our unique plant and animal species and fragile ecosystems and getting the community involved, whether through the Big Picture seminars or perhaps by joining a local Bushcare or Waterwatch group," Dr Stone said.

The Big Picture Seminar series is being held every Wednesday during September - National Biodiversity Month. For further information or to RSVP please call the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research on (02) 6246 5533.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia