A massive former North West Queensland grazing property will soon become Queensland's newest national park.
"The Lakes", north of Hughenden, will increase Queensland's protected area estate by 35,300 hectares, with the state government finalising the multi-million-dollar purchase.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said it was the largest acquisition yet undertaken under Queensland's Protected Area Strategy 2020-2030, a major plan to support the growth and management of our national parks and other protected areas.
"This purchase will ensure the future preservation of valuable, undisturbed ecosystems and habitat that will link up to an existing network of protected areas in the region," Ms Scanlon said.
"As it transitions into a national park, we will also explore ways to make it accessible for visitors who will definitely want to experience the incredible lakes, birdlife and walks for themselves."
"The Lakes" straddles the Great Dividing Range and is within the Einasleigh Uplands and Gulf Plains Bioregions a region with plains, woodlands, escarpments, creeks, and unique high-altitude lakes that support a wide range of important flora and fauna.
Ms Scanlon said the park would also protect the headwaters of the South Gregory River which feeds into the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
"Importantly, these lands are part of the Gudjala First Nations peoples' traditional country and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will engage with Gudjala peoples and look to provide opportunities for involvement in land conservation and indigenous cultural heritage management.," she said.
Ms Scanlon said the purchase price was commercial-in-confidence but the Queensland Government received financial support from The Nature Conservancy Australia.
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"The Department of Environment and Science was first approached by The Nature Conservancy proposing a joint protected area acquisition with The Wyss Foundation (a private US charitable foundation) in late 2019," she said.
"The Wyss Foundation committed up to $US1.829 million to the purchase."
Dr James Fitzsimons, Director of Conservation and Science for The Nature Conservancy Australia, said the purchase of The Lakes by the Queensland Government was a great achievement for conservation, not only in Queensland, but also in Australia.
"This property presents significant conservation values with a number of priority ecosystems and species," Dr Fitzsimons said.
"It also offers high value for resilience to climate change which is critical for biodiversity protection."
Molly McUsic, President of The Wyss Foundation, said the foundation was proud to support the efforts of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and the Queensland Government in working to protect, manage, and sustain wildlife and wild places.
"The purchase and protection of these incredible properties illustrates how local communities across Australia are contributing to the global goals of protecting the Earth's lands and oceans," Ms McUsic said.