It’s Wednesday, March 15, and an Australian state is adding more than a million acres to its national park system.

The pink cockatoo

The Australian state of New South Wales, which includes the city of Sydney, announced last month that it would turn more than 1 million acres of pastureland in its northwest corner into a new national park, marking the state’s largest-ever acquisition of private property for that purpose. The pastureland, called Thurloo Downs, was purchased from a farmer who had been using it to raise sheep and cattle, and is now expected to serve as an important refuge for dozens of threatened species.

Government officials said the park — which boasts a diversity of rivers, salt lakes, woodlands, wetlands, and sand dunes, as well as 39 different types of plant communities — would preserve ecosystems while also driving ecotourism. “We want this park to be a drawcard for visitors and an asset to the entire local community,” James Griffin, the New South Wales environment minister, said in a statement. “Far from keeping people out, we’ll invest in jobs and infrastructure to welcome people in to walk, explore, camp, and see what a beautiful part of the landscape it is.”

After Thurloo Downs joins the nearby Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp National Park and Sturt National Park, national parks in northwest New South Wales will protect a nearly contiguous area of about 2.5 million acres, greater than the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Some of the new park land overlaps with traditional lands of the Karenggapa and Parundji Aboriginal peoples, and the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service has promised to work with them to protect their cultural sites.

Stuart Blanch, a conservation scientist for the World Wide Fund For Nature-Australia, said the new park would help advance the global goal of protecting 30 percent of the world’s land by 2030. “Today’s announcement represents a big and welcome addition to protect areas,” he said in a statement, although he called for greater conservation efforts in the state’s vast agricultural lands.

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