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    Environment
    The Honourable Vicky Darling

    BLIGH GOVT MOVES TO SAFEGUARD QUEENSLAND’S UNIQUE BIODIVERSITY

    Environment
    The Honourable Vicky Darling

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    BLIGH GOVT MOVES TO SAFEGUARD QUEENSLAND’S UNIQUE BIODIVERSITY

    The Bligh Government will expand national parks, more than double the coverage of nature refuges in the state, develop a cassowary rescue plan and identify new wildlife corridors for protection under a new wide-ranging state-wide Biodiversity Strategy.

    A new Joint Advisory Committee comprising relevant Ministers and experts will also be formed to help reverse the decline in Queensland’s biodiversity and identify a list of 10 priority species in need of urgent recovery or intervention.

    Environment Minister Vicky Darling today launched Queensland’s first whole-of-state blueprint to protect our unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife for future generations

    Ms Darling said Building Nature’s Resilience: A Biodiversity Strategy for Queensland would move the state to a new comprehensive approach to managing its habitats and ecosystems, following on from landmark initiatives implemented by the Queensland Government in the past decade.

    She said a new approach was needed to focus on building the resilience of nature across the whole of the landscape – not just in national parks – in order to respond and adapt to the increasing threat to the environment posed by climate change.

    “Queenslanders are so lucky and blessed to live in one of most bio-diverse regions in the world,” Ms Darling said.

    “We’re home to three quarters of Australia’s native bird species, 85 per cent of its mammals, and just over half its native reptiles and frogs. More than 12,000 species of plants grow in Queensland.

    “As a testament to our amazing biodiversity, we have five natural World Heritage areas covering completely different parts of the state: the Wet Tropics; the Great Barrier Reef; Gondwana Rainforests; Fraser Island; and Riversleigh Fossil Mammal Site.

    “Our unique ecosystems support not only a range of species - half of which are found nowhere else in the world - but also the state’s economy through tourism, commercial fishing, agriculture and a range of recreational activities.

    “But serving as caretaker and guardian of these wonderful assets as well as our wildlife and plant species comes with a great responsibility, particularly when they face a number of major threats such as climate change, population growth, and introduced predators.

    “Our task just got that much tougher with the unprecedented destruction and devastation of Queensland’s summer of natural disasters.

    “But this Government has already set a strong platform of measures to safeguard our natural environments and prevent further decline in biodiversity. Major initiatives include Wild Rivers legislation, Great Barrier Reef regulations, national park expansions, a ban on broadscale tree clearing and expanded green zones in marine parks.

    “But we need to advance the cause with a comprehensive strategy that builds on past and current efforts, that goes beyond Government initiatives and recognises greater community and stakeholder partnerships. Traditional Owner involvement, particularly the joint management of protected areas in the Cape and shortly on North Stradbroke Island, is a hallmark of Government partnerships in conservation.

    “Queenslanders have already shown that they have a great ability to work together to reverse biodiversity decline – we need look no further than the amazing success stories of the northern hairy-nosed wombat and the bilby to know that we can save animals from the brink of extinction.

    “This blueprint will see more of those stories over time.”

    The Biodiversity Strategy’s primary goals are to reverse the decline in biodiversity and increase the resilience of species, ecosystems and ecological processes against threats such as climate change.

    The Biodiversity Strategy builds on projects and legislation currently in place and contains a number of priority actions and targets including:

    • increasing nature refuges currently numbering about 400 and covering three million hectares to about seven million hectares by 2020 – this will be achieved through ongoing funding to support conservation agreements with private landholders across the state;
    • developing and implementing a Cassowary Rescue Plan in collaboration with key stakeholders in the Mission Beach area;
    • identifying priority corridors and develop sufficient information to inform biodiversity related investment decisions;
    • working with the Commonwealth Government in the Gulf of Carpentaria on the potential to complement their proposed Marine reserve in federal waters with a marine park in adjoining state waters in the southern end of the Gulf – but with Tradtional Owner consent and input as well as adequately addressing the likely impacts on affected industries including commercial fishing;
    • identifying areas of Unallocated State Land with high conservation values and transferring them directly to the protected area estate;
    • finalising the new Master Plan for Queensland’s Protected Area System;
    • implementing ‘flagship projects’ that target cost-effective and on-ground actions for threatened species habitat protection and threat reduction;
    • identifying and monitoring threatened iconic species populations and reviewing and implementing recovery actions;
    • maintaining the total extent of Queensland’s remnant vegetation above 138 million hectares (80 per cent of state area); and
    • identifying opportunities to maximise Queensland’s share of funding under the Australian Government’s proposed Biodiversity Fund.

    Ms Darling also announced the establishment of an advisory committee to oversee the strategy’s actions, supported by a dedicated unit within the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

    “The Committee will include the Ministers responsible for Environment, Resource Management, Planning and Primary Industries as well as representatives from conservation, agriculture, natural resource management, Indigenous, urban and regional planning, and local government organisations,” she said.

    Ms Darling said the new Biodiversity Strategy had benefited from significant feedback received during a four month consultation period.

    “More than 200 submissions were received providing strong support for the strategy’s development and its whole-of-government focus on ecological resilience,” she said.

    The Biodiversity Strategy for Queensland is available online at www.derm.qld.gov.au, by emailing biodiversity@derm.qld.gov.au or by calling 13 QGOV (13 7408).

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