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9 July 2008 - Rudd should ask Garrett to protect Coorong wetlands       

Rudd should ask Garrett to protect Coorong wetlands

Sydney, 9 July 2008                                          

Now that the Prime Minister has witnessed the dire ecological crisis unfolding at the Coorong wetlands at the mouth of the Murray River, he should ask his Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, to give them urgent protection under Australia’s national environment laws.

Earlier this year Humane Society International (HSI) nominated the Coorong and Lower Lakes Wetlands for listing as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999.

A listing on the EPBC Act will give the Federal Environment Minister power to regulate upstream developments that impact on the ecological community and will require his Department to necessitate the development of a Recovery Plan.

“While the usual listing process can take over a year to run its course, it is clear that the Coorong and Lower Lakes do not have the luxury of time. Peter Garrett should instruct the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to assess them as a priority,” said Danielle Annese HSI Program Manager.

“It is now recognised that if water is not returned to the Coorong and Lower Lakes by October there will be widespread collapse of this ecological community, beyond which it seems it will be unlikely to ever recover,” said Ms Annese.

“This is an area that, along with being critically endangered itself, supports an abundance of nationally listed threatened species,” said Ms Annese. “This is an urgent situation and it is essential that Environment Minister Peter Garrett prioritises and fast-tracks the listing of this ecological community.”

To secure greater protection for vital drought-stricken habitats, HSI has also nominated the Macquarie Marshes in NSW, another ecological community that is undergoing widespread decline through lack of water resulting from extensive flow diversions and extractions from the Macquarie River, for listing as an endangered ecological community under the national legislation.


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