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High hopes for Ramsar listing

Wednesday, 27th April, 2011

MEETING: RDA’s Linda Nadge and Robin Edgecumbe, Sue Andrews (Pastoralists’ Association), Simon Crean, Deputy Mayor Darriea Turley, Frank Zaknich (Council), Vince Gauci (BH Community Foundation) and Clyde Thomson (RFDS). MEETING: RDA’s Linda Nadge and Robin Edgecumbe, Sue Andrews (Pastoralists’ Association), Simon Crean, Deputy Mayor Darriea Turley, Frank Zaknich (Council), Vince Gauci (BH Community Foundation) and Clyde Thomson (RFDS).

By Gina Wilson

Having the Menindee Lakes recognised as a wetland of international importance may soon take a giant step forward.

The boss of Far West Regional Development Australia (RDA) said a conversation at last week's meeting with Federal Minister for Regional Affairs Simon Crean made her think $100,000 could be granted to the region to help with the Lakes' Ramsar listing.

"It was eluded to in the meeting with Simon Crean," Mrs Nadge said.

The meeting, held in Canberra, was a chance for a seven-member Broken Hill delegation, which included the RDA, to discuss ideas with Minister Crean.

While there was no confirmation of the funding commitment, Mrs Nadge said she was hopeful the windfall would come, allowing the push for Ramsar listing to continue.

She said the money would be used for the continuation of face-to-face consultations, the identification the boundary area for a Ramsar listing and to gain support from neighbours of the wetland.

Mrs Nadge said the RDA Far West raised the listing of the Lakes as a Ramsar wetland at a meeting with Minister Crean and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority Chair, Craig Knowles, in mid-February, when RDAs from across the Basin gathered in Canberra.

Those discussions centred around ways to seek out economic development ideas, diversify incomes and save water in Basin communities.

Minister Crean said at that meeting that the Government was committed to assisting communities in the Basin and that he had formed a taskforce to consider the socio-economic impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Mrs Nadge and acting RDA chairperson Darriea Turley attended that meeting where they tagged three key projects at the Menindee Lakes, including having the lakes recognised as an international wetland.

The Ramsar listing initiative has been under discussion within the region and amongst stakeholders, many located outside of the region, since March 2010, when the RDA Far West NSW commissioned a report on whether the Menindee Lakes area met the Ramsar listing criteria.

That report found that the Lakes met all nine of the criteria. All the criteria is related to the ecology of the area.

Mrs Nadge said they hoped to find out soon if the funding would be granted.

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