International Good Neighbours
Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007
Release Date: 18/02/2004
Release Type: Media Release
Transcript ID: 21114
I am pleased to launch a new three year $10 million Regional Natural Heritage Programme to work with our neighbours in Asia and the Pacific to protect threatened areas of high biological diversity.
Some of the world';s most critically endangered species, including creatures such as orangutans, the Asian elephant, the Asian tiger, Komodo dragons and birds of paradise, are entirely dependent on hotspots for their habitat.
I congratulate Senator Meg Lees for proposing this innovative Australian international environmental aid programme to me last year and for being actively involved in developing the proposal.
The Regional Natural Heritage Programme will focus on actions to achieve practical results for the environment and people in our region through a biodiversity hotspots approach.
Hotspots are areas rich in the number of plant and animal species and under immediate threat. According to Conservation International, the remaining natural habitat in these biodiversity hotspots worldwide amounts to just 1.4 percent of the land surface of the planet, yet supports over one third of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.
These places are vitally important, not just as havens for a rich variety of plants and animals, but also because biodiversity plays an essential role in bolstering the health of the ecosystems we all depend on.
A Taskforce of international and Australian experts is advising the Minister for Environment and Heritage on how to invest these funds.