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Media Release: NT EPA warns Howard Sand Plains under threat from mining

04 Dec 2015

An Environmental Quality Report on the biodiversity of the Howard Sand Plains by the NT EPA, warns of major threats to internationally significant biodiversity (plants and animals) located there.

The Report, which includes recommendations for the ongoing protection and management of the Sand Plains, was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

NT EPA Chair Bill Freeland said the Report and Advice was prepared because the NT EPA is concerned that unless something is done soon there is a high probability of a gradual decline and ultimate extinction of the threatened biodiversity of the Sand Plains.

"Major threats to the Sand Plains' biodiversity are rural land uses and development, abstraction of ground water, and habitat removal and hydrological impacts associated with mining of extractive minerals," Dr Freeland said.

"It is anticipated that without intervention sand mining will eliminate the Howard Sand Plains and its biodiversity within the next fifteen years.

"The Report highlights the absence of effective ways to restore biodiversity following impacts of sand mining and recommends adoption of a protected area to preserve the biodiversity of the sand plains," Dr Freeland said.

Howard Sand Plains is home to the world's most species-rich community of bladderworts (Utricularia), small carnivorous plants. Three threatened plant species and one threatened animal species are also located there.

The Report and Advice were given to the Minister for the Environment in October 2015 and were tabled in the Legislative Assembly during the December sittings. The Minister has six months to prepare a response to the NT EPA.

The Report and Advice are available from the NT EPA website: htps://

The Report was prepared under section 28 of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Act (the Act). The Advice was prepared under section 25 of the Act.

For further information please contact:
NT EPA Media on 0437 458 213