THE NSW government has made its second-largest acquisition for national parks over the past decade, with the purchase of 60,468 hectares across the neighbouring Langidoon and Metford stations, east of Broken Hill, for an outback nature reserve.
The acquisition has been made to conserve biodiversity, including threatened species, and Aboriginal heritage in the region. The properties contain important artefacts such as grinding plates and stones associated with ephemeral Eckerboon Lake.
The protection of wetlands includes Eckerboon Lake, spanning 160 hectares, which during times of flooding provide habitat for migratory bird species.
The national parks system will have increased by more 350,000 hectares since August of 2019, well on the way to meet the target of an additional 400,000 hectares by the end of 2022.
“This new park will be an important refuge for wildlife including at least 14 threatened animal species including habitat for the Australian bustard, white-fronted chat and the pink cockatoo,” State Environment Minister Matt Kean said. Threatened species are also likely to include the blue-billed duck and freckled duck.
The purchase follows on from the recent creation of another outback reserve – Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp National Park, which was the largest purchase of private land for the national parks estate.
It is expected visitors will be able to explore sandplains and stony desert, gibber chenopod shrublands, floodplain woodland along watercourses and a lake system that provides habitat for a range of migratory bird species.
Landgidoon spans 35,554 hectares and Metford 24,914 hectares. They lie in the far west of the state, along the Barrier Highway and 65 kilometres east of Broken Hill, within the Broken Hill Complex Bioregion. The purchase increases the level of protection for Broken Hill Complex Bioregion from 3.45% to 4.42%.
The properties contain a diversity of broad ecosystems supporting Acacia shrublands on sandplains and on stony desert, gibber chenopod shrublands and floodplain woodland associated with ephemeral watercourses.
Two subregions are now protected. The Barrier Ranges subregion, characterised by steep, low rocky ranges is not sampled in the national park estate, while the Barrier Range Outwash subregion has only 0.4% reserved in the national park estate. It is characterised by stream channels and floodplains, low angle alluvial fans and floodouts, extending to extensive sandplains and dunefields with lakes and claypans.
It will protects seven landscape types, including three – Barrier Salt Lakes and Playas; Barrier Tablelands and Barrier Fresh Lakes and Swamps – that are not protected in any other national park and one (Barrier Downs) that is just 0.02% reserved.
The land contains 33 plant community types that are mapped, of which 25 are effectively unreserved at the bioregional level. Over 30% of the land comprises Acacia loderi shrublands – an endangered threatened ecological community. In NSW, the community is mainly confined to the south west with the major stands occurring between Broken Hill, Ivanhoe and Wilcannia, while only isolated stands occur beyond these areas.