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Senator The Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

FEDERAL BUDGET 2001-2002
EMBARGO: 8.00PM 22 MAY 2001


MEDIA RELEASE

NATURAL HERITAGE TRUST GETS A $1 BILLION EXTENSION


The Howard Government will provide $1 billion to extend the Natural Heritage Trust for a further five years, commencing in 2002-03.

Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Senator Robert Hill said the Natural Heritage Trust Stage Two will continue Australia's largest ever environmental rescue effort and is additional to the funds generated by the interest on the $300 million remaining in the Natural Heritage Trust Reserve.

"Along with the Howard Government's $700 million National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, the Natural Heritage Trust Stage Two will help improve the management of Australia's precious biodiversity, land, water and marine resources," Senator Hill said.

"The Commonwealth hopes that under the Natural Heritage Trust Stage Two the States and Territories will be matching its contribution," Senator Hill said.

In the first five years of the Trust, the Commonwealth paid State and Territory government agencies $446 million.

Senator Hill said the Trust would build on its initial successes in helping communities protect and repair their local environments.

"The Trust has been highly successful in bringing about significant improvements to rural and urban environments," Senator Hill said.

"It is a partnership of all Australians and combines the knowledge and resources of scientists, farmers, Indigenous Australians, community and environment groups and governments to manage our natural heritage responsibly.

"Through the Trust, community groups have been able to access more funding than ever before to help protect our environment for future generations. This latest Budget commitment ensures we can continue to build on that success over the coming years.

"Since the beginning of the Trust, over $1.17 billion funding has been approved for 10,300 projects to deliver cleaner beaches, healthier waterways, less air pollution, more productive agricultural land and save our threatened species. More than 300,000 community members across Australia, many of them volunteers, have worked to address local environmental problems.

"Project groups have reported that they have replanted or rehabilitated over 600,000 hectares of native vegetation, planted 15 million seedlings, erected 12,000 kilometres of protective fencing, protected 5000 kilometres of waterways by installing fences and more than seven million hectares of land have been approved for purchase or added to the nation's conservation estate."

Media Contact:
Belinda Huppatz (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia