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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon. Warren Truss
15 October 2003
The Australian and NSW Governments today committed $406 million to overhaul natural resource management in the state in a bid to deliver greater autonomy to local communities and landholders in managing the environment.
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Warren Truss, announced today that the agreement will be jointly funded by both governments from $266 million under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, $76 million from the Natural Heritage Trust, and $63 million in special allocations from NSW.
The funding is in addition to around $23.5 million already committed for natural resource management projects for 2003-04 under the National Action Plan and the Natural Heritage Trust bilateral agreements signed by both governments.
"Today's announcement signals a long-overdue commitment by New South Wales to enable greater community involvement in the management of natural resources in that state," Dr Kemp said.
"This is a great victory for commonsense and for regional communities in NSW. But these reforms must not become an excuse for delays in implementing vital environmental repair and restoration work that is currently planned."
Dr Kemp said New South Wales had also committed to ending broad scale clearing of remnant vegetation in a way that had achieved Australian Government support.
"NSW proposes to end clearing of remnant vegetation - excluding routine agricultural management activities - with the agreement of farmers, and with incentives for them to do so," he said. "The Howard Government will contribute $45 million to ensure reform of native vegetation management is fairly and properly managed and that, most importantly, landholders are properly involved," he said.
"Not only will a moratorium on broad scale clearing of remnant vegetation protect valuable natural resources, it will also deliver a greenhouse gas abatement benefit of approximately seven million tonnes a year."
Minister Truss said farmers are also winners under the $406 million plan - which will formally start rolling out early next year - with funding set aside for incentives and structural adjustment to help them adopt environmentally-friendly farm practices.
"Cash injections will also be available to local communities to encourage good land care practices," Mr Truss said.
"The Howard/Anderson Government believes that local landholders and communities are in the best position to make decisions on natural resource management in their area because they have the first-hand knowledge and the expertise.
"This is the very essence of the Howard Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust and the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality which strives to empower communities, through funding, to take on important environmental issues and projects."
Key elements of the $406 million plan include:
"Today's funding commitment from the Howard Government shows we are confident the newly-formed catchment authorities will hit the ground running in dealing with regional natural resource management issues," Dr Kemp said.
Minister Truss said the native vegetation reforms reflected the strong commitment of governments, farmers and conservation groups to address the pressures on biodiversity and to promote sustainable agriculture in NSW.