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No mystery - the lakes are great

Friday, 1st April, 2011

WORLD SIGNIFICANCE: Tony Sharley and Regional Development Australia’s Linda Nadge discuss the listing of the Menindee Lakes as a wetland of world importance WORLD SIGNIFICANCE: Tony Sharley and Regional Development Australia’s Linda Nadge discuss the listing of the Menindee Lakes as a wetland of world importance

by Gina Wilson

A meeting to discuss listing the Menindee Lakes as a world heritage Ramsar site was an opportunity to "demystify" the process, according to the Far West NSW Regional Development Australia (RDA).

The RDA organised the meeting and got "rousing" support to have the lakes listed as a wetland of international significance, it said.

This would ensure their ecological value was protected, increase their prominence on the national and world stage, and allow for increased financial revenue for Menindee, it said.

RDA's chief executive officer, Linda Nadge, said the meeting brought the key local players and those with knowledge of the process together.

"It was a great interactive session," she said.

The meeting involved a number of presentations and a question and answer forum which Mrs Nadge said provided much-needed information to local people.

It was also a chance for the group of about 60 people to hear that a Ramsar listing would not have the lakes "locked up".

Keynote speaker Tony Sharley gave his account of how an operating vineyard and winery had a wetland listed on Ramsar.

Mr Sharley was the Banrock Station winery manager and decided, then oversaw, the Ramsar listing of the Banrock Station Wetlands.

Mrs Nadge said his address discussed the hurdles and the humps and provided "comfort around people's concerns."

"It was a great, eye-opening address," she said.

"It demystified a complex process, showed that it is possible - it's all about communication."

Mrs Nadge said people were now ready to adopt the idea.

"I had one of our local graziers come up to me and say, 'I want to be on the Ramsar steering committee,'" she said.

"People were highly supportive. There was a rousing expression of support for us to keep going."

The group also met new Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief Craig Knowles.

The Central Darling Shire mayor, Paul Brown, said it was great that Mr Knowles had been invited to join the group.

"Any opportunity for people at that level with the capacity to make decisions that affect us ... can never be bad," Mayor Brown said.

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