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

9 January 2001

Repairing Wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced funding for two important wetland projects helping to repair the Murray-Darling Basin.

Senator Hill, who announced the funding at an Earthwatch project at The Coorong wetlands, said it was important to revive the River Murray's struggling wetland system.

"Part of the solution to problems affecting the Murray-Darling Basin is restoring its wetlands - the kidneys of the River Murray system. Wetlands are vital for storing water, buffering us from floods, providing fish nurseries and rich centres of plant and animal diversity," Senator Hill said.

"It is of great concern that some of the wetland 'jewels in the crown' of the Basin are seriously threatened. The good news is that we have now started to reverse that trend through community-based projects funded under the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust."

The Federal Government will provide $256,000 from the Natural Heritage Trust during the next three years for the Living Wetlands Fund, a project of the community-based Wetland Care Australia.

This will support a range of projects in the Murray-Darling Basin through a devolved grants scheme approach. In the first instance the Living Wetlands Fund will support projects within the Murray-Darling Basin including along the Lower River Murray at Wellington North and Swanport. The Fund will support the development of action plans, regional and site-based training workshops.

The Federal Government will also provide an extra $40,000 to the Loveday Cobdogla Wetlands Rehabilitation Project in the Riverland of South Australia. The Loveday Swamp, adjacent to the Cobdogla Irrigation Area, was once a dumping ground for saline groundwater. The South Australian Field and Game Association has been progressively rehabilitating these severely degraded wetlands over the last decade.

Since 1997 the Natural Heritage Trust has supported nearly 100 wetland rehabilitation projects in the Murray-Darling Basin, representing $12 million worth of Federal Government investment in this area.

Tuesday, January 9

Contacts: Belinda Huppatz 08 82377920 or 0419 258364
Environment Australia - Alison Russell-French 02 62741090 or 0419 264702

Wetlands rehabilitation in the Murray-Darling Basin

Murray Darling Basin Wetlands Status and Condition

WETLANDS PROJECTS ANNOUNCED

LIVING WETLANDS FUND REHABILITATION PROJECTS

Location Rehabilitation Works Community Group
Wellington North (Murrundi Reserve), Lower River Murray, SA. Contribution to opening inlet channel Wellington Progress Association & Rural City of Murray Bridge
Swanport, Lower River Murray, SA Develop outdoor classroom for education, recreation and eco- tourism Mannum-Wellington Local Action Planning Committee & Rural City of Murray Bridge
Collets Swamp, Clarence Valley, NSW Install floodgates to allow wetland filling and extend wet period by four months each year. Monitoring. Three private landholders & Clarence River County Council
Belongil Swamp, Byron Bay, NSW Assessment of hydrology and vegetation. Installation of drop board in drains to reinstate natural water regime. Environmental weed control and monitoring of water quality and regeneration. Information area development and signage Byron Shire Council, Belongil Estuary Management Committee

These projects demonstrate that the future health of the wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin lies in the hands of local communities who are putting in a massive effort across the Basin with funding support from the Natural Heritage Trust. This repair effort will benefit from new and innovative ways of delivering this support and resources. The Living Wetlands Fund Partnership will increase the community's capacity to get on with the job.

OTHER WETLAND PROJECTS IN THE MURRAY DARLING BASIN

Gurra Gurra Lakes and Salt Creek Management Plans - Lower Murray

Toolunka Flat

Migratory Waterbird Rehabilitation - Tolderol

Wonga Wetland Regeneration

Dowdle Swamp Catchment Revegetation

Revegetation and Protection of Avoca Wetlands

Commonwealth of Australia