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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture
Warren Truss
&
Western Australian Minister for Agriculture
Kim Chance

Western Australian Minister for Environment
Dr Judy Edwards

15 October 2003

$6 Million to Demonstrate Salinity Management in WA


A total of $6 million will be spent developing salinity management demonstration projects in four Western Australian catchments which will play a major role in helping farmers to effectively address salinity.

This is the first funding commitment under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality bilateral agreement recently signed between the Prime Minister, John Howard, and Western Australian Premier, Geoff Gallop.

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, WA Minister for Environment, Dr Judy Edwards, and WA Minister for Agriculture, Kim Chance, today announced the funding for the four catchment demonstration initiatives (CDI) to be established in regional Western Australia.

The projects were selected by agreement between State and Federal Government representatives in consultation with regional natural resource management bodies.

Major elements of the works include:

Mr Truss said the Catchment Demonstration Initiatives were priority projects under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality to be jointly funded by the Federal and the State Governments.

"They will deliver targeted, large-scale, catchment-based demonstrations of integrated salinity management practices to help WA farmers and communities respond to salinity," Mr Truss said.

"Twenty-four catchment and grower-based groups from Geraldton to Esperance applied for more than $24 million in funds as part of the new Catchment Demonstration Initiative to manage salinity."

Minister Truss said the four CDI projects were successful because they were technically and economically sound, well supported by the community and would deliver realistic examples of the sound management of land, water, infrastructure and flora and fauna.

One of the major causes of salinity problems is the replacement of perennial, deep-rooted native vegetation with shallow-rooted annual crops and pastures. These vegetation types use water differently to native vegetation, causing the ground water level to rise closer to the surface over time, bringing with it any salt in the soil profile.

"Salinity is a major environmental threat facing Western Australia. About 1.8 million hectares in the south-west agricultural region are already affected by salinity to some extent," Minister Truss said.

"Projections show that without rapid, large scale intervention, including significant changes to current land use practices, about three million hectares will be affected by 2010 to 2015. If there is no intervention, six million hectares, or 30 per cent of the region, could be affected."

According to the National Land and Water Resources Audit - Australian Dryland Salinity Assessment 2000 - the annual loss in profits for the WA agricultural sector, due to salinity, is estimated to range from $80 to $260 million.

Dr Kemp said the level of funding for the CDI projects would mean the groups would have enough resources for the demonstration sites to have measurable outcomes at the catchment scale.

"The projects will be monitored to ensure their success as catchment-scaled demonstrations," Dr Kemp said.

"Successful groups will be invited to appoint management committees to oversee the next six months of planning. Once accredited, the projects will move into full implementation in early 2004."

Dr Edwards said the funding, matched by landholders in each group, will deliver realistic catchment scaled demonstrations of salinity management options.

"Each group will receive $125,000 of additional financial support to finalise plans detailing the work to be carried out and ensure processes are in place to monitor and evaluate each of the plans and communicate the story," she said.

Mr Chance said the CDI supported the implementation of viable catchment plans, not just planning, which had been the focus of funding over the past decade.

"They will demonstrate the effectiveness of on-ground catchment-based works by committed groups of farmers," he said.

"They will differ from other programs because the impact of these works will be established before the plans are implemented."

More information about the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is available at www.napswq.gov.au.


Successful CDI Projects

South West NRM Region
Contact:
Debra Pearce, Executive Officer, South West Catchments Council. Ph. (08) 9780 6168.

Location: The catchment is located 25km north east of Gnowangerup.

Avon NRM Region
Contact:
Rob Edkins, Executive Officer, Avon Catchment Council.
Ph. (08) 9690 2250.

Location: The catchment is in the Shire of Kellerberrin. The nearest town to the catchment is Doodlakine within the lower catchment. The Catchment begins 2 kms south of Doodlakine townsite and extends to 26kms north/west of Doodlakine townsite. It is 16 kms from Kellerberrin. The nearest regional centre is Merredin which is 42kms to the east and Northam is 81 kms to the west.

South Coast NRM Region
Contact:
Kristina Fleming, Business Manager, South Coast Regional Initiative Planning Team. Ph. (08) 9892 8487.

Location: Jerramungup is located on the South Coast Highway between Ongerup and Ravensthorpe.

Northern Agricultural NRM Region
Contact:
John Braid, Executive Officer, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council. Ph. (08) 9954 1004.

Location: The catchment does not cover any substantial towns, but is located just north of Mogumber and south of Moora.

Commonwealth of Australia