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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation
Senator Ian Macdonald
8 November 2002
Thanks to $20 million from the Natural Heritage Trust's Australian Government Envirofund, thousands of Australian volunteers, including many Queenslanders, are again joining forces with the Commonwealth Government, tackling local environmental problems at their source.
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald, today announced approval of the first round of annual funding from the Australian Government Envirofund, including over $3 million for 197 projects in Queensland.
"The Howard Government is committed to supporting local communities in their efforts to develop local solutions to local environmental challenges," Dr Kemp said.
"This is what the Australian Government Envirofund is all about - directly funding local community groups, harnessing their local knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm to deliver on-ground results.
"The environment is everybody's business," Dr Kemp said. "By funding small local projects, the Australian Government Envirofund is showing us we can all do our bit and make a real difference in protecting and enhancing our local environment and natural resources."
In Queensland the Australian Government Envirofund is supporting a range of on-ground actions to address local environmental and natural resource problems, including revegetation, monitoring of rising water tables, weed control, fire management, and reintroducing and protecting endangered species.
For example, the Indo-Pacific Sea Turtle Conservation Group is receiving over $26,000 enabling it to establish community groups along the North Queensland coast to deliver monitoring and education programs to raise awareness of the issues facing marine turtles. The group will educate commercial and recreational marine users, monitor turtle activity, encourage reporting of incidental turtle sightings, and will produce a report to help understand the species and the issues that affect them.
The North Queensland coast is a globally important nesting and foraging area for six of the world's seven species of marine turtles: Green turtles, Flatback turtles, Hawksbill turtles, Loggerhead turtles, Leatherback turtles, and Olive Ridley turtles.
Also in this first round of funding, Gudjuda Reference Group is receiving over $5,800 to re-establish a range of bush tucker and medicinal plant species in Plantation Park rainforest near Ayr, including arrowroot, wombat berry, heart leaf, and wild quince. This project will help improve the local community's awareness of the role native plants play in Aboriginal culture.
"It is encouraging to see that the Australian Government Envirofund has attracted applications not only from groups seeking to maintain and build upon their existing on-ground works, but that a significant number of new community groups are joining with the Commonwealth to protect our environment.
"In fact, 42 per cent of groups receiving funding this year have not received Natural Heritage Trust funding before," Dr Kemp said.
Senator Macdonald said the first round of projects supported by the Australian Government Envirofund continues the valuable work of the Natural Heritage Trust - the largest environmental rescue effort ever delivered by any Australian Government.
"To date, almost 400,000 Australian volunteers have been involved in more than 12,000 projects funded through the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust," Senator Macdonald said.
"These projects have already achieved significant on-ground outcomes, including the planting of over 26 million seedlings, the protection of 7,730 square kilometres of native vegetation and the erection of 36,000 kilometres of protective fencing along our waterways.
"The Howard Government is committed to continuing this important work, allocating an extra $1 billion from consolidated revenue to extend the Natural Heritage Trust and the Australian Government Envirofund for a further five years beyond 2002," Senator Macdonald said.
The Ministers congratulated Queensland community groups on the quality and number of applications for Australian Government Envirofund funding.
"The community response to the Australian Government Envirofund has been overwhelming and highlights the success of the Natural Heritage Trust in developing community partnerships and delivering environmental benefits," the Ministers said.
"We congratulate the successful groups throughout Queensland for their outstanding efforts and look forward to seeing the results of all their hard work."
The Australian Government Envirofund is the new community focused component of the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust. Through the Australian Government Envirofund community groups can apply for grants from a few hundred dollars up to $30,000 to carry out on-ground actions to target local problems such as water quality, protection of native vegetation, salinity and coastal erosion.
For further information on projects funded by the Australian Government Envirofund in Queensland, and related photos, please visit the Natural Heritage Trust web site at: http://www.nht.gov.au/projects
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Kelly Stevens Senator Macdonald's office (02) 6277 7270 or 0405 191 732