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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

12 September 2001

$44 MILLION ENVIRONMENT FUNDING BOOST FOR NEW SOUTH WALES COMMUNITY GROUPS


The Federal Coalition Government has guaranteed the ongoing environmental work of New South Wales 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 today announced approval of almost $44 million for 557 projects in New South Wales for 2001-2002.

Projects funded in New South Wales include delivering accredited courses to train volunteers to manage native vegetation, and extensive fencing of the Lachlan River to conserve and enhance remnant native vegetation. Other projects will involve protection and restoration of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, and work to address the major threats of dryland salinity and loss of biodiversity.

"To date, environmental action around Australia stimulated by Trust funding has involved close to half a million community members, the planting of over 29 million seedlings and better weed management," the Ministers said.

"Important environmental work has taken place on more than 206 000 hectares of land, with more than 3600km 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 New South Wales 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.

Media contacts:
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 New South Wales, please visit the Trust website at http://www.nht.gov.au/projects/exemplaries

Commonwealth of Australia