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15 December 2000
Environment and Conservation Ministers for Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea met as the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) in Alice Springs, Northern Territory on 15 December 2000. Ministers approved a new set of water quality guidelines that represent a major step forward in restoring Australia's rivers and coastal waters. They also approved the release of the National Water Quality Management Strategy Guidelines: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality and Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting on the internet, CD-ROM, and in hard copy.
The Council took the significant step of releasing for public consultation a draft National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia. The approach promotes a more sustainable firewood industry with reduced impacts on biodiversity. The importance of this issue is underlined by the fact that Australia's domestic consumption of firewood is greater than the volume of hardwood woodchips exported overseas.
The Council also agreed that a draft code of practice for firewood merchants be developed for consideration by ANZECC in April 2001. Each jurisdiction was also invited to prepare an action plan for implementation of the National Approach and code of practice by April 2001.
Ministers welcomed the Independent Economic Assessment of Kerbside Recycling in Australia by consultants. The study undertook a thorough cost/benefit analysis of kerbside recycling in Australia. The key finding of the report is that recycling offers net economic benefits to Australian communities. The assessment places a dollar value on environmental and social benefits of kerbside recycling activities and shows a net benefit (financial and environmental) to Australian communities of $42 per household per year and an overall benefit to Australia of $266 million per year. The report, prepared for the National Packaging Covenant Council, is a valuable contribution to the future directions of kerbside recycling. It will be released in the New Year.
ANZECC also agreed that Environment and Conservation Ministers have an important role in providing support for and input to the implementation of COAG's National Salinity and Water Quality Action Plan. They also agreed that their agencies have a key role to play in state, regional and catchment strategies addressing salinity including:
ANZECC also today approved the release for public comment of five papers relating to the sustainable management of freshwater resources. These will contribute to the effective implementation of the National Salinity and Water Quality Action Plan. These papers are:
Other major outcomes from the ANZECC meeting included agreement to: