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Joint Media Release
Dr David Kemp MP
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
&
Warren Truss MP
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
&
John Thwaites MP
Victorian Minister for Environment and Water
&
Bob Cameron MP
Victorian Minister for Agriculture

11 December 2003

$5.8 m to Tackle Natural Resource Action in the Wimmera


The Australian and Victorian Governments have committed $5.8 million to improving the Wimmera region's natural assets following Government approval of the Wimmera Regional Catchment Strategy.

Approval of the strategy and investment was announced jointly by the Australian Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Warren Truss, the Australian Environment and Heritage Minister, Dr David Kemp, the State Agriculture Minister, Bob Cameron, and the State Environment and Water Minister, John Thwaites.

About $5 million comes from the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality and $818,000 from the Natural Heritage Trust funds.

Mr Truss said a new, strategic approach would reduce salinity and improve soil condition and water quality, adding to the sustainability of the region's primary production.

"Funding will be used to develop best practice farming systems, such as retaining vegetation and using better cropping techniques, to reduce the threat of salinity and soil erosion," Mr Truss said.

"The investment will also implement priority actions in the Wimmera Regional Salinity Action Plan to improve water quality in the Wimmera River and aid the sustainability of agriculture production."

Dr Kemp said the strategy outlined the community's vision of how to nurture the environment and allow agriculture and other industries to prosper and put the region at the forefront of natural resource management in Australia.

"The Regional Catchment Strategy has been used to develop a strategic and integrated package of activities with multiple benefits for plants and animals, productive land resources, waterways and wetlands" Dr Kemp said.

"More than $2 million will be spent on a suite of strategic activities including fencing to protect river banks from grazing, stabilising gullies and stabilising river and creek beds and banks to improve the condition of the Wimmera River, its tributaries and wetlands, including the nationally and internationally listed wetlands of Lake Hindmarsh and Lake Albacutya."

Mr Thwaites said investments would address the impacts on the unique and irreplaceable values of the native vegetation in the Wimmera area.

"The region has some rare plants and animals, but many, like the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo, are under threat as significant areas of native vegetation in which they feed and find homes, have been cleared," Mr Thwaites said.

"This investment gives effect to the regional catchment strategy's focus on protecting and rehabilitating the remaining vegetation to assist recovery of threatened species."

Mr Cameron said the strategy reiterated that replacing the Wimmera Mallee domestic and stock channel system with a pipeline network yielded important environmental and primary production benefits and was the region's most important natural resource management priority.

"Primary production from the Wimmera is worth about $700 million a year to the Victorian economy, with almost one-third of the Wimmera population depending directly on agriculture for their income," Mr Cameron said.

"This Regional Catchment Strategy will drive the community's vision for healthier landscapes and waterways in the Wimmera."

A summary of the Wimmera Regional Catchment Strategy is available at www.nrm.gov.au/publications/wimmera. Information on the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority is available at www.wcma.vic.gov.au. For information on the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality visit www.napswq.gov.au and for the Natural Heritage Trust visit www.nht.gov.au.


Investment for National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and Natural Heritage Trust activities in the Wimmera region 2003-04

Contact: Greg Barber, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, 03 5382 1544

Activities
NHT funds
NAP funds
Coordinate and monitor community capacity building
$306,600
$104,000
Communities and natural resource management industries support
$86,400
 
Establishing biolinks and buffer zones along the waterways and wetland of the Wimmera River.
 
$216,000
Managing pest plants and animals to minimise their impact on the Wimmera River assets.
 
$27,000
Protecting our high value waterways, monitoring those at risk and restoring priority waterways.
 
$550,000
Implementing sustainable water resource management and returning "natural" flow regimes to our waterways.
 
$190,000
Improving our knowledge of contributors to poor water quality in the Wimmera River Basin.
 
$70,000
Improving the water quality in our waterways and wetlands.
 
$156,000
Increasing community awareness and understanding and building capacity to assist in improving the health of our waterways.
 
$50,000
Strategic coordination of projects to improve waterway health
 
$21,600
Piping the Wimmera Mallee Stock and Domestic System – environmental flow study
 
$56,200
Undertaking salinity management actions in priority groundwater flow systems to reduce the decline in water quality in the Wetlands and Streams of the Wimmera River basin.
 
$794,900
Encouraging sound riparian zone management to improve the health of the terminal lakes.
 
$21,600
Managing the impacts of pest plants and animals on the terminal lakes
 
$11,000
Planning for better management of the terminal lakes system.
 
$3,000
Determining the natural flow regimes of the terminal lakes
 
$10,800
Monitoring the health of the terminal lake system.
 
$10,800
Improving the quality of the water entering the terminal lake systems.
 
$12,000
Understanding the current condition of the wetlands and waterways in the Millicent Coast Basin and identifying the risks and threats and appropriate management action.
 
$162,000
Implementing sound rural drainage management in the Millicent Coast Basin.
 
$10,800
Understanding the environmental, economic and social benefits of improved flow regimes.
 
$64,800
Minimising pest plant and animal impacts on the wetlands and waterways of the Millicent Coast Basin.
 
$27,000
Priority wetland and waterway rehabilitation.
 
$108,000
Water Quality Monitoring.
 
$92,000
Researching the impacts of various land uses on the water quality entering our waterways and wetlands.
 
$30,000
Supporting sound Local Government planning for improved water quality.
 
$5,400
Undertaking salinity management actions in priority groundwater flow systems to reduce the decline in water quality
 
$73,000
Promoting best practice in Wimmera soil management
$73,500
 
Implementation of priority actions in the draft Wimmera Regional Salinity Action Plan
 
$662,250
Development of Environmental Services Program for Wimmera Region.
 
$54,000
Development of Farm Planning program that meets the needs of farmers and regional natural resource planning.
 
$54,000
Provision of Geographical Information Services.
 
$54,000
Decline in extent of native remnants
$95,700
 
Need for coordinated remnant conservation
$255,800
$221,000
Regional NAP Co-ordination
 
$216,000
Gaining a better understanding of the region's assets impacted by salinity and declining water quality through developing a strategic Digital Elevation Modelling information database
 
$850,000
TOTAL
$818,000
$4,989,150
Commonwealth of Australia