South Australia Adds 150,000 Acres to its Protected Area Estate and Proclaims a New National Park

South Australia Adds 150,000 Acres to its Protected Area Estate and Proclaims a New National Park

South Australia has just added almost 150,000 acres (60,000 hectares) to its protected area estate thanks to the work and support of several environmental organisations.

In 2019, The Nature Conservancy Australia facilitated the purchase of the 150,000 acre pastoral property located 600 km north of Adelaide – now proclaimed as Nilpena Ediacara National Park – and its transfer to the South Australian Government, with funding provided by the Wyss Campaign for Nature.  

South Australian Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the new national park is an important part of its government’s push to have the Flinders Ranges become World Heritage listed.

“The fossil site at Nilpena – arguably the richest and most intact fossil site in the world – is an internationally significant paleontological and geological research site,” Minister Speirs said.

“The official proclamation of Nilpena Ediacara National Park after the Marshall Liberal Government signed an historic agreement to conserve South Australia’s Ediacaran fossils in the Flinders Ranges.

“The new national park will further protect these globally significant fossils and one of the world’s most important historic sites. It will also play a key role in our bid to have the Flinders Ranges World Heritage listed.”

Dickinsonia Fossil one the the Earth’s first animals, at Nilpena. Photo: Jason Irving / South Australian Department of the Environment and Water.

In 1946, the area became historically significant when geologist Reginald Sprigg discovered fossil imprints in the old Ediacara minefield in the Flinders Ranges while searching for minerals. It marked the first time preserved remains of multicellular ancient creatures (that lived between 550 and 570 million years ago, predating dinosaurs) had been discovered – the oldest fossilised remains of its kind ever found on Earth at the time.

Dr James Fitzsimons, Director of Conservation and Science for The Nature Conservancy Australia said the protection of the former pastoral property is a significant milestone for conservation in South Australia as it includes two threatened ecological communities and a number of threatened species.

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“A strong commitment is paramount to tackle the growing loss of ecosystems and species and preserve the critical role they play in carbon storage, water quality and food provision,” said Dr James Fitzsimons.

“Under the previous Convention on Biological Diversity, Australia has expanded its network of protected areas across public, private and Indigenous lands in a short amount of time and in a science-based manner. The proclamation of the Nilpena Ediacara National Park is a great example of one of the ways to do so.

“Now that the world needs to commit more to protect biodiversity at a time where it is under immense pressure, Australia has an important role to play. Not only can our past achievements help other countries as they strive for 30×30, but we should also use our unique position to lead by example by now committing to proactive funding and policies to achieving the target.”


Earlier in the month, the Australian Government joined the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, an intergovernmental group championing a global commitment to stop the accelerating loss of species and protect fragile ecosystems. The Australian government committed to dedicating 30% of the planet’s lands, freshwaters and oceans to nature conservation by 2030.

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South Australia is contributing to the national commitment by embarking on other conservation projects including Glenthorne – Adelaide’s second metropolitan national park – as well as a plan to create Australia’s biggest national park – Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert.

Should the SA government be successful, the state will see protected areas more than double from 3.9 million hectares to 7.86 million hectares.

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Cover image of Nilpena Fossil Fields by Jason Irving / South Australian Department of the Environment and Water.

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