New parks and reserves for north Queensland

The Lakes National Park. | Newsreel
The Lakes National Park in north Queensland was declared today. | Photo: Supplied by the Queensland Government.

More than 300,000 hectares in north Queensland became part of nature reserves and two new national parks were declared in Queensland yesterday.

A joint State-Federal government project will support a 64,000 hectare expansion of the Crystalvale Nature Refuge, about 15km south-west of Coen, and establish a new 244,000 hectare Abingdon Downs North Nature Refuge, about 85km north-west of Georgetown.

The announcement comes as the Lakes National Park, near Hughenden, and Malbon Thompson Range National Park, near Cairns, were formally declared.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the additional nature reserve allocations meant almost half of all land protected as private protected areas across Australia was in Queensland.

“Combined with other protected areas like national parks, close to 15 million hectares, or 8.6 percent, of land in Queensland is now protected,” Minister Plibersek said.

She said protected land at Crystalvale Nature Refuge would cover 90,286 hectares of dry eucalypt woodlands and open forests in the upper catchment of the Holroyd River, while protected land at Abingdon Downs North Nature Refuge would span across dry eucalypt woodlands and wet eucalypt forests, including parts of the Red and Einasleigh River catchments.

“These nature refuges provide habitat for the near-threatened diadem leaf-nosed bat, the vulnerable Cape York rock-wallaby, freshwater sawfish and Macropteranthes montana (Antique wood), as well as the endangered red goshawk, the Black-throated finch and the Gouldian finch – some of which can only be found in these local bioregions.”

Queensland Environment Minister Leanne Linard said the two new national parks were acquired in recognition of their outstanding natural and cultural values.

Minister Linard said the Lakes, a former cattle property, was home to four hypersaline watercourses, classified as Wetlands of High Ecological Significance.

“These watercourses provide critical habitat for many species of waterbirds while protecting the headwaters of the South Gregory River – which feeds into the Great Barrier Reef catchment,” Minister Linard said.

She said the property was also home to unique species like the giant burrowing cockroach and two newly discovered species of clam-shrimp, which were only found in this national park’s lakes.

Minister Linard said Malbon Thompson Range National Park, 35km south-east of Cairns, covered 620ha of undisturbed coastal lowlands, covered by rainforests interspersed with kauri pines and eucalypts.

“Sitting adjacent to Malbon Thompson Forest Reserve, the dedication of the new national park enables permanent protection of a major environmental corridor spanning about 37km between Yarrabah and south to the mouth of the Russell River in the internationally-recognised Wet Tropics World Heritage area.”

Barramundi Lagoon Abingdon Downs. | Newsreel
Barramundi Lagoon on Abingdon Downs, which is now a nature reserve. | Photo: Supplied by Queensland Government