By Adriaan Anarco-Troika
DARWIN — The federal government should implement the findings of the Resource Assessment Commission and incorporate the conservation zone into Kakadu National Park without delay, says the Northern Territory Environment Centre.
The federal government no longer has any reason to delay, said Richard Ledgar, Kakadu Research Officer of the centre. "The final report stated quite clearly that 'the Conservation Zone is exceptionally rich in vertebrate fauna, some aquatic invertebrates, and flowering plants, in comparison with both the surrounding area of Kakadu National Park and the rest of the wet/dry tropics of northern Australia'.
"The final report went on to state, 'the Conservation Zone is ecologically linked with Kakadu National Park, especially through the South Alligator River. As a result of these linkages and its geographic position, the zone is an integral part of the ecology of Kakadu National Park and has value because of its contribution to the ecological integrity of the Park.'
"This is a clear indication to the federal government that the area should be incorporated as quickly as possible into Kakadu National Park", Ledgar said.
"The federal government has been stalling on this decision for long enough. The RAC process has confirmed both the environmental and cultural value of the conservation zone and it has also shown that economically it is not of national importance. Now is the time to act!"
It is important, Ledgar said, that Kakadu National Park contain "the whole river system, which is protected from its source to the sea. The government should now make a comprehensive decision concerning Kakadu and end the speculation once and for all about possible mining at Koongarra and Jabiluka elsewhere in the park.
"If the federal government is serious about nature conservation, then we must have a park system where maintenance of ecological integrity is the primary management goal."