The Australian Greens today called on the Government to take immediate action to ensure the protection of biodiversity hotspots in Australia.
A new report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature has warned that Australian native animals are protected in just ten per cent of the country's land area. The key concern raised by this report is that the biodiversity hotspots already identified are still the least protected, whilst 72 per cent of Australia's threatened species continue to decline.
The Australian Greens were shocked to learn in Senate Estimates today that $6 Million set aside for protecting biodiversity hotspots has not been spent and will be handed back to Treasury.
"This money was meant to be used to buy high conservation-value properties in Australia's biodiversity 'hotspots' areas where there is a great concentration of unique wildlife," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"I cannot believe that the government couldn't spend this money when there are so many opportunities to buy back some stunning private and leasehold land."
The Greens today cautiously welcomed the announcement by Environment Minister, Peter Garrett of a strategic assessment of the Kimberley, but stressed that a comprehensive long-term planning approach was needed.
"The Greens have been calling for a regional development strategy for the Kimberley for some time," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"It is crucial that the planning process is comprehensive that it considers all types of industrial development - not just gas projects. "
The Government is actively facilitating the destruction of the Burrup's unique rock art with today's approval to Woodside's Pluto gas development.
"This is the third major environmental decision by the Howard Government in the past few days, first with the Gunns Pulp Mill, then Barrow Island. Now they seem determined to steamroll over the Burrup peninsula," said Australian Greens spokesperson for the Environment Rachel Siewert.
Senator Rachel Siewert, today called on the Government to ensure that the priceless cultural heritage of the Burrup peninsula was protected.
"We understand the WA EPA has given the go ahead for preparatory work on the Pluto Area B site on the Burrup, and that this work could start at anytime. We are very concerned that this may affect the cultural values of the area" said Senator Siewert.