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Joint Statement by
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill, and
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss

10 September 2001

$18 MILLION ENVIRONMENT FUNDING BOOST FOR TASMANIAN COMMUNITY GROUPS


The Federal Coalition Government has guaranteed the ongoing environmental works of Tasmania community groups with more funding from the Federal Government's $2.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust announced today.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Warren Truss have approved almost $18 million for 181 projects in Tasmania for 2001-2002.

The successful Tasmanian projects were announced today in Launceston by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone.

Projects funded in Tasmania include the protection, restoration, and rehabilitation of high priority vegetation communities, riparian zones and degraded landscapes in the Tamar region, eradication of introduced marine pests, and incentives and education to encourage better property management. Projects will also address declining water quality, loss of native vegetation, unsustainable land use, habitat loss and biodiversity issues.

"To date, environmental action stimulated by Trust funding has involved more than 32 000 community members in Tasmania, the planting of more than 29 million seedlings nationally and better weed management," the Minister said.

"Important environmental work has taken place in Tasmania on more than 16 000 hectares of land, with 800 km of fencing erected to protect vulnerable areas such as river banks. These works have contributed to better water quality and the conservation and enhancement of a range of threatened flora and fauna."

The Howard Government has committed an extra $1 billion to extend the Natural Heritage Trust for a further five years beyond 2002. The $1 billion funding boost will generate significant in-kind support throughout Tasmania communities, and is expected to generate at least $3 support in cash and kind for every Trust dollar contributed, as it has done since 1997.

"Once again the Trust focus is on funding community groups to undertake projects that contribute to sustainable agriculture and conserving Australia's unique biological diversity," the Ministers said.

"While Natural Heritage Trust funding is important, the strength of community involvement is critical in identifying local environmental and natural resource management problems, developing local solutions and getting the job done.

"In this International Year of Volunteers, we are delighted with the way in which local communities have embraced Trust-funded projects. It clearly demonstrates the success of the Federal Government's approach to helping communities address local issues."

The Ministers said the quality and number of community applications for Trust funding continued to endorse the Trust and built on the results achieved throughout the first four years.

"Many community groups have applied for further funding to continue and enhance their projects and have provided excellent models for new groups committed to working for a better environment," the Ministers said.

During the announcement today, Dr Sharman Stone said Tasmania was leading the way in submitting quality projects for funding this year.

"The Meander and Tamar Valley NRM Projects are protecting, enhancing and restoring our vegetation, improving river health and water quality, rehabilitating wetlands and providing a range of incentives and help to local landholders," Shaman Stone said.

"By funding these two major projects and dozens more across Tasmania, the Federal Government is promoting sustainable agriculture while protecting Tasmania's unique biodiversity."

Media contacts:
Dr Sharman Stone - Simon Frost -0419 495 468
Senator Hill - Belinda Huppatz 0419 258 364 or 02 6277 7640
Mr Truss - Yvonne Best 02 6277 7520

Note: For examples of projects funded under the Trust in Tasmania, please visit the Trust web site at http://www.nht.gov.au/projects/exemplaries

Commonwealth of Australia