Big success: Australia’s protected areas

By Victoria Laurie 15 July 2011
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The National Reserve System has been a big conservation success story and great value for money says WWF.

A NEW BILLION-DOLLAR Biodiversity Fund should be spent securing ‘safety net’ land for conservation, according to WWF-Australia, adding to the network of Australia-wide national parks and reserves that have proved to be a major conservation success story.

The Biodiversity Fund was announced this week as part of the Gillard Government’s carbon tax announcement, and is aimed “to protect Australia’s unique species from climate change impacts.”

According to Environment Minister Tony Burke, the fund will “initially provide $946 million over six years for a range of projects to foster and preserve biodiversity around Australia.” It would include helping farmers, community groups and landcare managers to restore plant biodiversity in denuded landscapes and ‘capture’ carbon.

National Reserve System

But WWF-Australia spokesman Dr Martin Taylor says he would prefer the money went into securing – either by sale or covenant – more tracts of ‘safety net’ land for threatened communities. “If that billion dollars could be invested in the National Reserve System (NRS), that would be really good. There are still large gaps in our protection of ecosystems around Australia.”

The Twelve Apostles off the coast of Port Campbell National Park, part of the NRS in Victoria. (Credit: Getty)

The National Reserve System is Australia’s network of 9,300 national parks and other protected areas covering nearly 13 per cent of the country and aimed at conserving fauna and flora. WWF-Australia has strongly praised the Federal government for its support of the NRS, “one of the biggest conservation success stories of the Rudd and Gillard governments.”

A new report from WWF, ‘Building Nature’s Safety Net‘, found that by investing $180 million in the reserve system in 2008, the Federal government had helped leverage nearly five times that amount from other sources including state governments and private land holders.