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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon Warren Truss MP

25 September 2002

Where to for Australia's Natural Resources?

The final report of the National Land and Water Resources Audit was released today by Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss.

Entitled Australia's Natural Resources 1997-2002 and Beyond, the report summarises the condition and management opportunities for Australia's soils, water, rivers, estuaries and biodiversity.

"Having all this information in the one publication, not only improves our understanding of the scale of the challenges we face, but also helps farmers and regional communities identify workable and lasting solutions," Dr Kemp said.

"Focussing on soil erosion and fine tuning farming practices to avoid salinity and acidity are essential to increasing on-farm productivity and protecting the natural environment," Mr Truss said.

"The challenge for governments, scientists and business is to support our farmers in their efforts to turn around Australia's soil management challenges."

A second, significant issue highlighted in the report is the importance of Australia's rangelands.

"These vast areas - more than 75 per cent of Australia - are sparsely settled but have important multiple values, including grazing, mining, indigenous activities, biodiversity and tourism," Dr Kemp said.

"Government and community resources are limited, so it is vital that we take an Australia-wide approach and get true value for our investment dollar.

"To do so, an approach that transcends governments, agencies and interest groups, and delivers high quality and practical support to outback Australia is required."

Mr Truss said water was the third big issue, with the Audit providing much of the information needed to make decisions about a range of water allocation and management issues.

The report also includes nine recommendations for continuing with an information-based approach to natural resource management in this country.

"The recommendations will help us develop the next phase of National Land and Water Resources Audit activities," Dr Kemp said.

Media contacts:
Dr Kemp's office: Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Mr Truss's office: Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

Commonwealth of Australia