National Park Expansion a Win for Coastal Birds

White-bellied sea eagle in a treePhoto sourced from QPWS

The rugged, mountainous Bowling Green Bay National Park on the land of the Bindal people, is set to expand by two hectares after the Queensland Government acquired three islets off the coast of Townsville.

Native animals including the white-bellied sea-eagle and black-naped tern are set to benefit.

The islets’ acquisition were part of the Queensland Government’s Island Arks initiative which will convert 1,390 hectares of Great Barrier Reef islands and coastal properties to protected areas.

Conservationists welcomed the announcement by Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leanne Linard today.  

The Bowling Green Bay National Park includes a wetland that has gained international recognition as a significant coastal habitat for waterfowl and varied birdlife and has been listed under the Ramsar Convention. In the summer months at least 30 different species of birds migrate to the park from various parts of the world.

North Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Crystal Falknau said:

“Just as environmental pressures are making life more difficult for our communities, our native wildlife is also vulnerable to natural disasters, heatwaves and changes in the seasons.

“One of the most important things we can do to help is to make sure there are enough safe places for our wildlife to live, eat and breed. 

“This means a vastly increased and connected protected area network, better funding of rangers and park infrastructure, and invasive species management.

“We urgently need more protected areas in our region to ensure our wildlife can thrive, and so we are grateful for the addition of these three islets to Bowling Green Bay National Park on Bindal country.

“We hope to see many more protected areas created in coming months, to provide more havens for our beloved waterbirds and other local wildlife.”

Queensland Conservation Council protected areas campaigner Nicky Moffat said:

"This is great news for nature, recreation and tourism in several Queensland regions - more island ecosystems protected as national parks for all Queenslanders to enjoy.

"From Cairns to Mackay and down to Gladstone, the Great Barrier Reef's island and coastal national parks will now be more connected and this will help ensure their health into the future.

"Queensland has spectacular, unique landscapes and they need to be cared for. Well-funded protected areas are vitally important and it's great to see leadership from this Government towards the important goal of doubling Queensland’s protected areas estate.”

The Great Barrier Reef Island Arks initiative adds to the protection and preservation of some of the state’s most important island ecosystems and species.

North of Hinchinbrook Island, Goold Island National Park will also increase by 21.2 ha, by acquiring an adjoining island.

Granite outcrops and sandy beaches are features of this national park, with eucalypt woodland covering most of the island, interspersed with patches of rainforest in sheltered gullies. Dugongs and turtles feed on the seagrass beds in the shallow waters off the island.

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