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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
David Kemp
&
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss
&
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Minister for Mines
Stephen Robertson

1 October 2003

$5 Million Boost for Salinity and Water Quality Projects in Queensland


More than $5 million will be injected into salinity and water quality work throughout regional Queensland over the next year, funded under the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality program.

The $5 million - announced today by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp; Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mr Warren Truss; and the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Stephen Robertson - confirms the Federal and Queensland Governments' commitment to address two of Australia's most critical environmental and natural resource problems.

This commitment was reinforced when the Federal and Queensland governments signed a National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality bilateral agreement earlier this year.

Mr Truss said the funding would provide support to priority action projects developed by four regional natural resource management bodies in Queensland - Condamine, Burnett Mary, Burdekin Dry Tropics and South East Queensland Western Catchment.

"These regional bodies have identified high priority action needed to address salinity and water quality issues affecting natural resources and the environment in their area," Mr Truss said.

"This work is part of the overall action planned by regional NRM groups to address major salinity and water quality issues as part of their regional natural resource management plans. These plans - developed in consultation with local communities - also focus on improving agricultural practices and protect native plants and animals.

"The emphasis of the regional management plans is on developing projects that have local solutions for local problems. The plans must be accredited by the Queensland and Federal Government to receive funding for projects proposed in the investment strategies."

Mr Robertson said the funding would allow work to begin immediately on 16 projects in the four catchment regions.

Some examples of projects include:

"These communities have taken the initiative to tackle natural resource and environmental challenges in their regions and Governments are committed to backing their efforts," Mr Roberston said.

"Among the work identified is protecting native vegetation, waterways and wetlands; providing landholders with information and training; engaging Indigenous people in natural resource management; water quality monitoring; and increasing the skills of people to take action on the environment locally.

"These projects would contribute substantially to the long-term conservation of Queensland's natural environment and industry sustainability in the four regions."

Dr Kemp said issues such as resource degradation, pest infestation and loss of biodiversity, because of increased salinity and degraded water quality are major concerns to the Condamine, Burnett Mary, Burdekin Dry Tropics and South East Queensland Western Catchment regions.

"Extensive consultation between these four regional bodies, local communities and Government will ensure these projects will deliver improved water quality, address salinity through better management, and increased community awareness," he said.

"These projects are a fine example of regional communities taking ownership of their local environment to tackle the devastating impacts of salinity and deteriorating water quality on our natural resources."

The Federal and Queensland Governments have approved more than $24.8 million in NAP funding since 2000 to address salinity and water quality issues in Queensland.


Project Summaries

Condamine Alliance - regional total $1,625,100

Major regional centres covered by the Alliance: Toowoomba, Killarney, Millmerran, and Dalby.
Contact: Pam Harris (07) 4613 1622

$1,166,000 - to pilot Integrated natural resource management-a community engagement approach that the Condamine Alliance intends to use to implement their regional NRM plan. Integrated natural resource management, although successfully implemented elsewhere for insect pest management and improving production systems, has not previously been used in target-based resource management at the landscape level.

$459,100 - to repair severe degradation and implement time-critical priority management strategies previously identified by the catchment community to address water quality and salinity issues in the Condamine region.

South East Qld Western Catchments Group - regional total $1,417,300

Major regional centres: Ipswich, Kalbar, Helidon, Esk, and Yarraman.
Contact: Craig Maudsley (07) 3810 6581

$1,035,000 - to build the group's capacity to work with local catchment groups, industry and local governments to design and deliver on-ground projects and develop a regional NRM plan. Key activities include: providing a conduit for capacity building; seeking leverage opportunities for key sectoral groups; assisting in developing management action targets and ensuring coordinated development; and delivery of the regional plan.

$287,000 - to coordinate existing and future science initiatives for achieving NRM targets in the Western Catchments Group's region by ensuring uniform targets are set and delivered cost effectively, and examine target setting for other resources such as land and biodiversity. This project will also validate the accuracy of existing tools developed for the Western Catchments Group.

$95,300 - to establish a culturally appropriate framework to ensure Traditional Owner engagement, resource values and management are incorporated into the planning and implementation arrangements for the Western Catchments Group's region.

Burnett Mary Regional Group - regional total $1,741,173

Major regional centre: Bundaberg, Gympie, Maryborough, Nanango, Mundubbera, Monto, Childers and Biggenden.
Contact: Carolyn Anear (07) 4132 8333

$513,400 - to expand existing water quality monitoring networks and initiate new ones to focus on hotspots identified by the State of the Region Report and the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

$378,725 - to implement a pilot project of the Stream Reach Rivercare Plans process in the Mary River catchment, assisting landholders to undertake activities through devolved Rivercare and Water Quality grants. The project will improve water quality and also assist landholders in the Burnett River catchment with carrying out a gap analysis to identify data necessary for the development of the Burnett River and tributaries Rehabilitation Plan.

$232,000 - to protect native vegetation, which stabilises and improves salinity and water quality trends through activities such as wetlands and stream banks protection. Greening Australia is a key partner in this proposal.

$231,300 - to engage Indigenous people in NRM planning in the Burnett Mary region. Indigenous engagement officers will collate relevant NRM issues and ensure Indigenous people are included in plan development and implementation.

$142,348 - to promote sustainable management practices for farming land in the Burnett Mary region and establish a shallow groundwater monitoring network to determine the impact of current management practices on hydrological processes.

$118,400 - to promote sustainable management practices for grazing land in the Burnett Mary region to sustain productivity and minimise off-site impacts by adapting a grazing land management package for northern Australia. The project will also pilot methodologies for implementing the package in key sub-catchments to improve water quality in the Burnett Mary region.

$75,000 - to establish a framework for understanding regional social, economic and cultural heritage issues in the Burnett Mary region. This will monitor and evaluate changes in community awareness and attitudes and socio-economic values, including those of Indigenous people.

$24,000 - to assess and address information and training needs of key stakeholders to help them develop and implement the regional NRM plan for the Burnett Mary region.

$26,000 - to administer, monitor and evaluate the entire package of the Burnett Mary Regional Group's priority action proposals.

Burdekin Dry Tropics Board - regional total $275,200

Major regional centres: Charters Towers, Collinsville, Glenden and Townsville
Contact: Kim Emery (07) 4724 3544

$153,450 - this project involves a field/project officer conducting property visits, group meetings and workshops, and providing support and a 'toolkit' to aid the adoption of improved land management practices in the area where the Burdekin catchment overlaps the Desert Uplands region.

$121,750 - to measure and evaluate Priority Action investments in the region to ensure accountability and provide ongoing monitoring, measuring and reporting arrangements for the National Action Plan, building on the work of the National Land and Water Resources Audit.

Commonwealth of Australia