Monday, June 24, 2024

Queensland Govt declares significant wildlife reserve

The Queensland Government has reached agreement with Bush Heritage Australia (BHA) and Bidjara Traditional Owners to safeguard a key Lake Eyre Basin property by declaring it as a special wildlife reserve.

Edgbaston Reserve, an around 8,000-hectare property north-east of Longreach, is owned by BHA and is home to the most significant natural springs for global biodiversity in the entire Great Artesian Basin and one of the most important in the world.

It will be the second special wildlife reserve to be established in Queensland, meaning the environmentally-significant property will be safeguarded against commercial activity under Queensland law for future generations.

“The Miles Government leads the nation when it comes to identifying and safeguarding areas of environmental significance, such as Edgbaston Reserve,” said Queensland Minister for the Environment, Leanne Linard.

“We are the only state in Australia to provide national park-level protections on private land through the special wildlife reserve class of protected area.

“We established Australia’s first specialist wildlife reserve four years ago, and continue our commitment to work with private landholders, organisations and local governments to increase and enhance the state’s already impressive list of protected areas.

“I am delighted to announce this agreement to enhance the protections for Edgbaston Reserve, which will ensure this estate will remain a site of international environmental significance well into the future,” she said.

The reserve provides critical habitat for 26 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world, including one of Australia’s smallest and most threatened freshwater fish, the critically endangered red-finned blue-eye.

Edgbaston has also been the cornerstone of many discoveries of new species including 15 types of plants and the yet-to-be-described Edgbaston shrimp and amphipod.

“Australia is facing devastating rates of habitat loss and extinctions so legislation like this is a game-changer for the protection of critically endangered species in Queensland,” said Bush Heritage Australia Chief Executive Officer, Rachel Lowry.

“Bush Heritage Australia is committed to preserving the environmentally critical habitat found here at Edgbaston Reserve, which is now legally protected from harmful activities for decades to come.

“As one of the most significant sites for global biodiversity in the world, we are glad to see the Queensland Government prioritise the ongoing preservation of Edgbaston Reserve.”

Although already declared a nature refuge in 2014, BHA expressed interest to the Queensland Government to enhance the level of protection to the estate by declaring it a special wildlife reserve.

Edgbaston’s formal declaration as a special wildlife reserve is scheduled to take place later in 2024.

“Bidjara are supportive of the protection of Edgbaston Reserve as a Special Wildlife Reserve,” said Bidjara Traditional Owner, Trevor Robinson.

“Protecting Country from the threats of mining is important for protecting our cultural heritage.”

Its establishment under this category of protected area follows the Queensland Government’s landmark establishment of Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve in 2020, which was the first protected area of this kind for private land in Australia.

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