Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
University of Oregon School of Law
Eugene, Oregon
Save Steve's Place

SIWRThe Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR), a conservation property and a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, was acquired as part of the National Reserve System Programme for the purpose of nature conservation with the assistance of the Australian Government.

The 135,000-ha property, in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, is home to a set of important spring-fed wetlands that provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide a permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and are home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife.

The Situation

Pitcher Plant. Photo Credit: Peter TaylorSIWR is being threatened by strip mining. Cape Alumina Pty Ltd has lodged mining lease applications that include approximately 12,300 ha of the Reserve. Cape Alumina company documents indicate an intention to mine 50-plus million tons of bauxite over a 10 year period commencing in 2010. The greater part of this mine is on SIWR.

The proposed area for mining contains the headwaters of irreplaceable waterways and unique biodiversity that will not recover after mining operations are finished. Initial surveying demonstrates that SIWR is home to rare and threatened plant and wildlife species, including six plant species that are highly vulnerable and four plant species that have never been recorded on the western Cape York.

“We have also found rare birds - and that is after only initial surveys. Imagine all the treasures we will uncover after further research,” Terri Irwin said.

Gibsons Waterhole (SIWR). Photo Credit: Barry LyonThe Wenlock River is also the richest in freshwater fish diversity of any Australian river, and supports a critical population of endangered spear-tooth sharks, saw fish and the now vulnerable estuarine crocodile. The area, which was recently inspected by the Environmental Protection Agency, was found to contain unique springs and associated biodiversity which have an important hydrological role in the local area by providing perennial flow into the Wenlock.

“The research is all there. This area is vital in maintaining water flow, and habitat to significant Australian flora and fauna. There is no argument. There cannot be any compromise on this. Destroying an ecosystem that has yet to be described is simply wrong,” Terri said.

“The perched bauxite springs are the last of their kind and this precious habitat is a tribute to Steve. I will do whatever I can to protect it.”

How You Can Help

Ling Creek (SIWR). Photo Credit: Barry LyonAlready, more than 250,000 people from all over the world have signed the petition to Save Steve’s Place.

“The support has been inspiring, and has confirmed that we are representing the interests of a nation in protecting our wildlife and their habitat,” Terri said. “The petition gives the people of Australia a voice – and it is ringing loud and clear. We will continue to fight to Save Steve’s Place alongside the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have already voiced their concern,” Terri said.

Visit to sign the petition and to find out more about this unique area.


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