26 September 2023

DES buys leases to protect turtles and bees

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The Department of Environment and Science has secured the purchase of leases for St Bees Island and Long Island Broad Sound, conserving them for the future.

The move protects key habitat for a range of species on the Great Barrier Reef islands, including koalas and flatback turtles.

In a statement, the Department said the St Bees Island lease included 4.2 hectares of land that fronted Homestead Bay. It consolidated the South Cumberland Islands National Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The purchase of the Long Island Broad Sound rolling term lease will add more than 3,500 hectares of the island’s unique natural habitat, and a known rookery for the vulnerable flatback turtle, to Queensland’s protected area,” the Department said.

“Long Island is about 20 kilometres long and 5.5 kilometres wide at its widest point, and features vast salt marshes and mangrove forests and a range of restricted coastal ecosystems.”

It said that combined with the recent acquisition of Wild Duck Island lease, these purchases would significantly add to the conservation of critical rookeries for flatback turtles.

Minister for the Environment, Meaghan Scanlon said the areas would now be rehabilitated to support the continuing management of the islands and better protection for some of the State’s iconic animals.

“Both of the purchased leases are not yet accessible to the public. However, once previous operations are transitioned and the historical infrastructure is made safe and rehabilitated, the areas will be available for visits,” Ms Scanlon said.

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