NSW buys 60,000 hectares of farmland near Broken Hill for outback nature reserve | New South Wales

The New South Wales government has purchased more than 60,000 hectares of farmland near Broken Hill for an outback nature reserve, home to at least 14 threatened species.

In an effort to expand conservation efforts in the traditionally underrepresented far west of the state, on Monday NSW environment minister Matt Kean announced the government had finalised the purchase of the neighbouring Langidoon and Metford sheep stations.

The amount paid for the 60,468 hectares of land – located 65km east of Broken Hill – has not been made public, but it’s understood it was funded by NSW environmental trust.

This purchase represents the second-biggest national parks land procurement in NSW in the last decade, preceded only by the acquisition of the 153,415 hectare Narriearra station in the state’s far north-west in June last year.

A map showing the purchased area.
A map showing the purchased land. Photograph: NSW government

The stations stretch across sandplains, stony desert and shrubland, and are located in a bioregion that has one of Australia’s lowest levels of reservations – only 3.4% of the land is currently protected. The Treloar and Metford creeks also run through the properties.

“Land to the west of the Great Dividing Range supports a great diversity of wildlife, unique natural heritage and culturally important places, worthy of protection,” Kean said in a statement.

The government said the properties contain important Aboriginal heritage sites and artefacts, such as grinding plates and stones.

The area is also home to a number of threatened animal species.

“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,” Kean said.

The threatened blue-billed duck and freckled duck are also found in the region, and 30% of this new reserve will be made up of endangered Acacia loderi shrublands.

The government will now begin the process of legally converting the stations into national parkland, which is expected to take several months.

“In time, 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,” a spokesman for the minister said in a statement.

The conversion of the Langidoon and Metford sheep stations into a nature reserve will make it an important refuge for wildlife.
It is hoped the former sheep stations will become an important refuge for wildlife. Photograph: NSW government

In 2019 the NSW environment minister committed to increasing the national park system by 200,000 hectares. When this goal was reached nearly a year early it was doubled to a target of 400,000 by the end 2022.

Once this addition is formally reserved, the national parks system will have increased by more 350,000 hectares since August 2019, well on the way to meet the target of an additional 400,000 hectares by the end of 2022.

The land encompasses two ecologically important subregions: the Barrier Ranges which is currently unrepresented in the state’s national parks, and the Barrier Range Outwash subregion.

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