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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 3949..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

In recent months the committee has hosted a range of functions in an attempt to promote community understanding of the concept of biosphere reserves and to ensure that the feedback on the proposed nomination is based on informed opinion. The committee has been pleased with the outcomes to date.

In early November 2006 the committee was privileged to be able to co-host a round-table discussion here at the Assembly with the Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra. Dr Natarajan Ishwaran, the director of the UNESCO division responsible for biosphere reserves who was visiting Australia, led the discussion. Dr Ishwaran advised that the primary aim for biosphere reserves is that stakeholders come together to find a way forward on sustainability.

Biosphere reserves are not founded on any international treaty, unlike world heritage areas. They are rarely legislated for. The core, buffer and transition zones in biosphere reserves can change over time. Dr Ishwaran noted that biosphere reserves are sometimes criticised for their lack of regulatory impact and legal basis.

He also noted that this can be seen as a strength, as it can promote engagement with the aims of listing, rather than have the focus on regulation and compliance. In this context I would like the Assembly to take note that the nomination and listing of a biosphere reserve in the ACT, and possibly the region, would not require the elimination of feral animals and pest plants in the ACT.

The committee is disappointed that the coverage given by the Canberra Times to the proposed nomination has at times been misleading and factually incorrect. The committee understands the time pressures journalists face and regrets that that this can lead to the dissemination of misinformation.

The committee hopes that the organisations and agencies that have yet to develop and express a view do so before the conclusion of the committee's inquiry. The committee will be holding further public hearings in early 2007.

The committee has already held two public hearings on the proposed nomination. On 8 August 2006 the committee met with the Rural Leaseholders Association. On 28 November 2006 the committee met with staff of CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, the Department of the Territory and Municipal Services, the Conservation Council of the South-East Region and Canberra, and Nature and Society Forum.

Other community seminars have also been discussing the proposed nomination. In late November 2006 Zero Waste Australia and the ACT Commissioner for the Environment sponsored a public forum in the Assembly on the ACT biosphere, climate change and resource recovery. I was pleased to see Dr Foskey at the forum.

On 1 December 2006 the committee hosted a public screening of A gardener's city—Canberra's garden heritage, the DVD produced by the ACT, Monaro and Riverina Branch of the Australian Garden History Society. The DVD showcases many important institutions and values that contribute to Canberra's rich garden heritage and urban biodiversity. The committee was pleased to be able to discuss the proposed biosphere reserve nomination inquiry with guests at the screening. As I have mentioned, the committee's inquiry is ongoing. I encourage all members of the


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