Queensland, Australia -
11/18/2008 - With the release of the film "Australia" it's a strong reminder that is now is the time to act protect one of Australia's outback icons - the Kimberley.
Global Pew Environment Group's Dr. Barry Traill, who directs Wild Australia, said the Kimberley was facing serious threats to survival.
"Understandably all Australians want to capitalise on the beauty and iconic nature of the Kimberley to draw visitors to our country. But the region needs more than attention as a beautiful location for the film industry and tourism marketing campaigns - it needs greater protection.
"There is a common misconception that much of outback Australia like the Kimberley is well protected, but with proposed large-scale industrial development on the Kimberley coast this is simply wrong.
"Just six percent of the Kimberley on land is protected within conservation reserves - with feral animals and lack of management of wildfires already causing a decline in many native animals. In recent years we have seen rapid declines of species such as the Gouldian Finch, Northern Quoll, and Golden Bandicoot.
"Every year off the coast, humpback whales make their way to the calving grounds just north of Broome, where they stay for four months with their calves. Yet there is no marine park which protects this crucial whale nursery area.
"We are strongly encouraged by the commitment of the Federal Government and the Minister for Environment, Peter Garrett, in undertaking a strategic assessment of the Kimberley region to identify areas of national and international significance. Similarly, we welcome the commitment by Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett that this sensitive area will not be compromised by any potential development.
"If we want to keep our heritage in the Kimberley for the future - then we need a significant increase in conservation parks, such as marine sanctuaries and Indigenous Protected Areas on Aboriginal lands - and more active management and protection of the country, through increased support for Indigenous rangers."
Wild Australia is a joint project of the Pew Environment Group and The Nature Conservancy that is working to protect large tracts of Australia's unique terrestrial and marine environment.