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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

ANZECC Communique 19

7 July 2000

Nineteenth Meeting - Melbourne, 7 July 2000

The Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), Victorian Environment Minister Sherryl Garbutt, and Commonwealth Environment and Heritage Minister Senator Robert Hill, have signed the Industry Waste Reduction Agreement for Newsprint (2001-2005), with Mr Walter Kommer (Publishers National Environment Bureau) and Mr David Kirk (Fletcher Challenge Paper - Australia).

This is the third such agreement for the newsprint industry, with the previous agreements receiving strong support from all members of the Newsprint Producer and Publisher Groups. The new agreement proposes a national recycling target of up to 74% for newsprint, and a collection target of 250,000 tonnes per annum by December 2005. This amount of paper would cover the grassed area of the MCG to a depth of 47 metres each year. Multiply this by five for the five years of the agreement and we would be buried in it.

The ANZECC Ministers, meeting in Melbourne on 7 July 2000, have agreed to publicly release Commonwealth, State and Territory work plans under the National Framework for Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation (the National Vegetation Framework). These work plans have been prepared by each jurisdiction and are to be the principal means of implementing the objectives of the National Vegetation Framework.

An independent evaluation will occur throughout the second half of 2000 to measure progress against the National Vegetation Framework and fulfilment of the commitments made under the work plans. This will be a comprehensive and rigorous audit and include consultation with stakeholders and the broader public.

To encourage more progress on greenhouse issues, ANZECC has agreed that its December 2000 meeting will consider a report on the progress of each State and Territory against the commitments made under the National Greenhouse Strategy.

ANZECC agreed to commence a feasibility study for a national collaborative project to computerise all of Australia's botanical collections. Titled Australia's Virtual Herbarium, the project will accelerate the development of an internet platform to disseminate this vital biological information to help in the design of revegetation, threatened species recovery plans and other land restoration activities throughout Australia. At its December 2000 meeting ANZECC will consider the report of the feasibility study, including potential sources of funding and the steps needed to complete the project within three to five years.

Other major outcomes of the ANZECC meeting included agreement to:

Further details of the meeting's outcomes are attached.


FURTHER DETAILS OF ANZECC MEETING OUTCOMES

Native vegetation management

Dr Sharman Stone MP officially launched the National Framework for Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation (the National Vegetation Framework) at the International Landcare 2000 Conference in Melbourne on 3 March 2000.

The National Vegetation Framework sets out a national approach to the management and monitoring for native vegetation and provides a process through which Commonwealth, State and Territory vegetation commitments can be implemented. All Australian governments have committed themselves, through the ANZECC process and the Partnership Agreements under the Natural Heritage Trust, to reverse the long term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover by June 2001.

The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have developed work plans that reflect the best practice attributes for native vegetation management as described in the National Vegetation Framework. These work plans are considered to be the principal means for implementing the objectives of the National Vegetation Framework.

ANZECC has endorsed an independent evaluation, which will consider the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the work plans for achieving long term sustainable native vegetation management. This audit is expected to commence in mid 2000 and its findings are to be reported to the ANZECC meeting in December 2000.

Dryland salinity

A Standing Committee on Conservation task force will provide advice to ANZECC within twelve months on the implications of increasing salinity for biodiversity conservation and management in Australia. The task force will also provide advice on national research needs to gain a greater understanding of the implications of increasing salinity.

Industry Waste Reduction Agreement for Newsprint

To Australia's credit, the year 2000 collection rate for newsprint, set at 200,000 tonnes, has already exceeded the target by 32,000 tonnes. This rate is a world benchmark and an effort every Australian should be proud of.

The new Industry Waste Reduction Agreement for Newsprint proposes to hold a strategic assessment in the latter half of 2003 to look at other ways of reducing the environmental impact of newsprint right through its lifecycle. This will bring the newsprint industry in line with the National Packaging Covenant, another self regulatory initiative that aims to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging throughout its lifecycle.

The Publishers National Environment Bureau members will continue their advertising support for governments of $1m over the plan period by supplying space in their publications, thus ensuring the focus remains on improving the efficiency of newsprint recycling, particularly for kerbside collection. The Commonwealth is pleased to be able to use this space to promote the recycling of newspapers at a national level.

Review of National Biodiversity Strategy

The Strategy review is a comprehensive national assessment of the progress made to meet the biodiversity conservation objectives agreed to by all jurisdictions in 1996 for achievement by 2000. This assessment includes information on Commonwealth, State and Territory initiatives under way in the six target areas of the Strategy, which are:

The review indicates that while significant advances have been made, including mainstreaming biodiversity, a number of the specific objectives have not been fully met. This reflects the fact that there is now increased knowledge of Australia's biodiversity and the threats to its conservation, as well as the fact that achievement of the objectives will, for the most part, be an ongoing task.

The review concludes that specific targets and accountability measures are required to support ongoing implementation of the Strategy to 2005, to manage existing and emerging threats and to avoid future threats to conserving Australia's biological diversity.

Australia's Virtual Herbarium

ANZECC has agreed to investigate the feasibility of a national collaborative project to computerise all of Australia's botanical collections and accelerate the development of an internet platform to disseminate this information to help in the design of revegetation, threatened species recovery plan and other land restoration projects throughout Australia.

There are over 6 million plant specimens held in the major Australian herbaria. This data provides details of the identity, distribution, soil types, appearance and biology of Australia's native plant species. Apart from their importance in documenting Australia's plant biodiversity, these records provide an invaluable historical information base for planning biodiversity restoration works, such as the recovery of threatened species where habitat has been lost to land clearing and designing small and catchment scale revegetation projects.

The existing investment in specimens held in Australian herbaria is in excess of $300m, spanning a collection period of 200 years. These collections also have enormous historic and cultural value given they include specimens collected during early voyages of discovery.

Unfortunately, the difficulty in accessing and sorting the information recorded with these specimens has meant that this public investment is not being utilised. As a result, broadscale land restoration projects across the continent have not been able to take advantage of this incredible resource.

With the development of electronic databases and networks, the information associated with each specimen is potentially more readily accessible to a wider range of users, and more uses, within the community and government agencies. However, of the specimens presently in Australian herbaria, less than 40% are databased with information that can be made available electronically, and of those that are electronically recorded, only a small fraction is available in a readily accessible format.

The Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria is progressing Australia's Virtual Herbarium, which will allow users to access on line, searchable databases of plant specimen and related data held by all of Australia's herbaria.