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

20 February 2003

More than $25 Million to Improve Management of Queensland's Land and Waterways


Queensland's land and waterways will be better protected with more than $25 million in Commonwealth and State funding announced today for sustainable land-use and environmental projects.

The funding includes work that regional community groups have identified as high priorities.

Opening the Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management offices in Bundaberg today, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, said the pledge of joint Commonwealth and State Government funds, through the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, demonstrates the commitment of the governments to natural resource management at the local level.

"Four regions are receiving funding for projects identified as essential by the people who live there," Mr Truss said.

"These projects range from developing strategies for managing water quality and salinity in the Lower Burdekin to encouraging the adoption of sustainable grazing, farming and irrigation practices in the Fitzroy Basin area," Mr Truss said.

More than $11.9 million in the first round of National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality priority actions funding for Queensland will be received by the following natural resource management groups:

In addition to this priority action project funding, the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments will also fund over $13 million in statewide socio-economic, capacity building, water quality, and information management projects.

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Stephen Robertson, said this funding was a considerable investment by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to ensure continuous on-ground activities in natural resource management throughout Queensland.

"Several state–wide projects are also being funded to address social and economic issues that are integral to managing Queensland's natural resources such as land and water usage," Mr Robertson said.

"This ranges from research into how to strengthen relationships between community and government groups to improving environmental outcomes such as better water management practices.

"Other state-wide projects cover the development of a website to share information between groups on regional economic and social issues and improving land management practices by offering practical incentives."

Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, commended groups involved in developing regional natural resource management plans for their areas.

"The National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is about Australian governments and local communities working together to manage two of the most significant environmental issues facing Australia," Dr Kemp said.

"With the harsh reality of Australian conditions affecting so many people, it is essential that community ideas and solutions are fed into the program's structure at a national level.

"Six statewide projects have also been funded to specifically address the use of water, which is particularly timely since it's the International Year of Freshwater.

"These aim to minimise the effects of land management activities on water systems, link land management practices to catchment processes and water quality condition outcomes, improve public access to regional information on water quality, and help regional bodies set water quality targets and identify how they will achieve them."

The Burnett-Mary Group has received an initial grant of $500,000 for capacity building to enable the group to establish its office and to engage the community on setting objectives for the region.

"I congratulate the groups on the extensive consultation process which it has undertaken to determine the interests and aspirations of the two catchments," Mr Truss said.

"I understand that a series of priority projects will shortly be put forward for funding by the two governments."

Further information on the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is available at www.nrm.qld.gov.au/salinity or www.napswq.gov.au.

(Examples of projects are attached, and a full list is available on the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality website at www.napswq.gov.au/media/index.html)

Media Contacts:
Mr Truss' office Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433
Dr Kemp's office Nicky Deitz (02) 6277 7640 or 0439 438 500
Mr Robertson's office Paul Lynch (07) 3896 3689 or 0417 728 676


Examples of Queensland Projects Funded Under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality

Regional Priority Action Projects

Fitzroy Basin Association Priority Action Project - $1,428,420

Implementing the Central Queensland Strategy for Sustainability - Fitzroy Basin Neighbourhood Catchment Program

This project aims to increase adoption of sustainable grazing, farming and irrigation production systems that achieve National Action Plan outcomes by direct engagement of landholders on a group and individual basis.

Burdekin Dry Tropics Board Priority Action Projects - $2,896,272

Improving Water Quality through Land Management changes in the Bowen-Broken River Catchment: A Framework for Action

This project will develop and test a framework for the identification and delivery of prioritised on-ground actions in grazing lands to minimise sediment and nutrient export and improve surrounding water quality, integrating environmental, social and economic needs leading to the improved management of the Burdekin Catchment grazing lands and their resources.

Initiation of a Lower Burdekin Water Quality and Salinity Management Program

The issue of rising groundwater tables with some salinity outbreaks in the Burdekin River Irrigation Area (BRIA) is threatening the economic viability of agricultural systems in the BRIA and left unchecked will begin to have significant downstream effects. This project will begin implementation of optimised and sustainable management of water resources in the Lower Burdekin, meeting robust and achievable salinity and water quality targets built on increasingly economically profitable farms producing in harmony with the environment and accepted by the community.

Addressing Dryland Salinity in the Belyando-Suttor sub-catchment of the Burdekin National Action Plan

The Belyando-Suttor sub-catchment of the Burdekin has been identified as the highest potential dryland salinity hazard in the Catchment. The outcome of this project will be development of an improved landholder capacity to monitor dryland salinity and to plan appropriate land use and management responses including vegetation retention through a significant increase in landholder and stakeholder awareness, information and knowledge of processes and location of salinity risks.

Whole-of-catchment Assessment and Prioritisation of Wetlands and Waterways

This project will initiate of a process to prioritise on-ground works to improve the condition and ambient water quality of wetlands and riparian vegetation and the fostering of a greater community awareness of wetlands and their location, the drivers that influence their condition and the need to undertake works for their sustainable management.

Development and Implementation of a Community and Stakeholder Natural Resource Management InfoBase and Community Involvement Process for the Burdekin Dry Tropics Region

Pivotal to the successful engagement and empowerment of the community and landholders of the Burdekin to manage the catchment's natural resources is ready access to accurate, relevant information to build knowledge of Natural Resource Management processes and contribute to decision making. This activity will result in an information and database software package for community and stakeholder groups within the region and greater community and stakeholder involvement in the development and implementation of the regional Natural Resource Management plan and investment strategies.

Engaging Aboriginal Traditional Owner Participation in NAPSWQ in the Burdekin Dry Tropics

There is widespread recognition that Aboriginal Traditional Owners have not participated meaningfully in community-based Natural Resource Management planning processes to date. The outcome of this project will be a web-based Traditional Owner information management system including agreed protocols for accessing information to inform the Natural Resource Management plan and associated activities to enable Traditional Owners to more effectively participate in natural resource management and planning.

Condamine Alliance Priority Action Projects - $912,200

Condamine resource information system for target-based Natural Resource Management

Strengthen community capacity for target-based Natural Resource Management by providing an atlas-type resource information system to enable easy access to a platform of knowledge for community development of, and responsibility for, achievement of water quality and salinity targets for the Condamine Catchment.

Improved monitoring programs

Review monitoring programs for natural resources, implemented in Condamine and elsewhere, and recommend standardised, coordinated, efficient and effective monitoring programs to allow the setting of objective targets and monitoring and evaluation of performance against targets.

Changing landscape management to best practices

Improved landscape management through improved communication, knowledge and awareness of impacts of current practices across all catchment landscapes, including rural and urban landscapes.

Queensland Murray-Darling Committee Priority Action Projects - $6,713,350

Identifying and Implementing Landscape Best Management Practices in the QMDB

This project focuses on community-based sub-catchment planning to facilitate the identification and adoption of landscape best management practices relating to setting and achieving targets for salinity and water quality. It will apply participative processes to develop and implement targeted plans, from property to landscape scales, in identified high priority areas. It draws on past experience and planning activities to target high priority needs in an integrated program that will address time-critical issues and by moving towards a target-setting approach, will build the foundation for key elements of the regional Natural Resource Management plan and investment strategy. It will add value to past investments and will integrate with other activities seeking to improve the identification and adoption of landscape best management practices.

Community-based Vegetation Management and Biodiversity Conservation in the QMDB.

This proposal focuses on community-based vegetation management and biodiversity conservation relating to salinity and water quality. It will apply participative processes to develop and implement targeted plans, from property to landscape scales, in identified high priority areas. Experience with community-based vegetation management and nature conservation in the QMDB has shown that it is a powerful way to build community ownership of sustainable natural resource management. Condition assessment surveys and research have identified immediate threats to vegetation and biodiversity within ecosystems in the QMDB. This Priority Action Proposal draws on past experience and planning activities to target high priority needs in an integrated program that will address time-critical issues and by moving towards a target-setting approach, will build the foundation for key elements of the regional Natural Resource Management plan and investment strategy. It will add value to past investments and will integrate with other activities seeking to improve vegetation management and biodiversity conservation.

Community Water Quality and Riverine Management in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin.

This proposal focuses on riverine, floodplain and wetland management issues relating to salinity and water quality. Past community-based monitoring of water quality in the QMDB has shown that it is a powerful way to build community ownership of sustainable natural resource management. It has also shown that there are threats to water quality that need to be addressed. Further, condition assessment surveys and research have recorded significant broad scale degradation of river and wetland systems, and have identified immediate threats to wetlands throughout the QMDB. This Priority Action Proposal draws on past experience and planning activities to target high priority needs in an integrated program that will address time-critical issues and build the foundation for key elements of the regional Natural Resource Management plan and investment strategy. It will add value to past investments and will integrate with other activities seeking to improve salinity and water quality related resource management.

Statewide Socio-Economic Projects - $4,300,000

Institutionalising social and economic considerations and assessment in regional arrangements

The aim of the project is to support the integration of social and economic assessment at various stages of Natural Resource Management including plan making, impact assessment of key investment proposals, social and economic criteria for funds allocation and appropriate indicators for monitoring. The project will define expectations for good quality social and economic assessments, develop guidelines, develop clear economic and social criteria to underpin decisions on the allocation of funds among Regions; review available skills in this area and establish agency support to assist regional groups.

Co-ordination of social and economic information for the development of a regional information service

The aim of the project is to develop mechanisms to integrate existing national and state social and economic data sets drawn from key sources into National Action Plan planning activities through regional information systems that Regional Bodies can access from a common web browser. The service will provide effective integration of spatial, textual and database information in a form that is readily usable by local governments and Regional Bodies for the purposes of natural resource management. The project will focus on a case study area (the Fitzroy Basin) in the first instance but look to extend the knowledge learned to other National Action Plan regions.

Social research, development and extension

The project is the development of a framework to progress partnership-based research and extension on key social issues through identifying the social RD&E needs and expectations of Natural Resource Management sectors and Regional Groups; developing projects to address identified RD&E needs; and implementing a consistent RD&E ‘priorities framework'. This project intends to facilitate strategic partnerships between research providers and regional groups to tackle a limited number of critical social issues limiting progress towards National Action Plan objectives, selected through an ‘expressions of interest' process. It will also ensure that research outcomes are fed back to other regions and regional groups for further project development.

Integrated Research, Development and Extension for Regional Natural Resource Management

The aim of the project is to provide Regions with the support needed to establish major collaborative partnerships between government, research institutions and regional communities. It will broker long-term regional research and development partnerships and foster a Whole-of-Government and cross-institutional approach to multi-party partnering and the integrated delivery of research, development and extension (RD&E) services to regions to support National Action Plan implementation.

Developing and Trialing a Toolkit of Incentives and Market-based instruments for Regional Natural Resource Management

The project aims to support regional bodies to implement and strengthen their planning frameworks through identifying, developing and applying a range of social, economic and market based incentives for improved land management practices to achieve salinity and water quality outcomes. The project will build upon national pilots of Market Based Instruments and support the development and application of innovative tools for natural resource management in Queensland.

Statewide Capacity Building Projects - $1,184,000

Integrating effective Natural Resource Management planning into local government planning schemes

Local government planning schemes are the primary mechanism for regulating future development in an area and need to incorporate relevant Natural Resource Management objectives. There are currently few methodologies for incorporating Natural Resource Management issues into planning schemes and limited experience in this area. This project will identify opportunities for integrating salinity and water quality issues into Integrated Planning Act Planning Schemes; trial and evaluate integration mechanisms and promote best practice integration across Regional Natural Resource Management Bodies and local government. This project will build on the methodology established in NHT Project 992708 Incorporating Natural Resource Management Initiatives into Local and Regional Planning Instruments.

Building learning and evaluation systems into the National Action Plan

Evaluation will be an essential part of the National Action Plan program. This project aims to extend evaluation from a basic accountability requirement to one in which participants use evaluation techniques to learn, adapt and improve the program to ensure its long term success. The project aims to build ‘action research' learning and participatory evaluation processes into each region's evaluation framework.

Sustainable Agricultural Production

The aim of the project is to foster collaboration amongst Regional Bodies, Government and Industry in the planning, prioritisation and delivery of targeted R,D&E to deliver more sustainable agriculture practices. As such the objectives of this project are:

Enhancing technical/ advisory & community engagement capacity within Regional arrangements

The aim of the project is to provide additional, critical technical and/or advisory and community engagement/capacity support for regional bodies. The project will:

Statewide Water Quality Projects - $6,087,000

Framework and processes for target-setting and monitoring

The project will develop the frameworks, tools and guidelines for target-setting, monitoring and evaluation that include minimum requirements to satisfy state and national criteria, a process for target-setting that utilises and integrates outputs of other state-level projects, and tools and a methodology for monitoring, evaluation and reporting progress towards targets.

Collation and assessment of existing water quality information

Water quality data sets are not well documented for public accessibility. This project will compile the available water quality data, biological data and other datasets related to water quality (e.g. land use), in a form that is comprehensive and readily accessible. The project will obtain data from agency monitoring programs and less well-known studies such as individual research projects within each region. This project will prioritise datasets collated on the basis of relevance to regional planning outcomes. The project will assess the current status (condition and trend where available) of water quality in each region and identify gaps in existing monitoring networks. This information is a necessary precursor to regional target-setting, and will also provide baseline information to inform the modelling of water quality issues

Modelling landscape processes, management impacts and catchment loads

Spatial and temporal modelling will provide tools to support target-setting by predicting outcomes, evaluating options and monitoring progress. This project will provide quantitative assessments of sediment and pollutant loads from both sub-catchments and catchments as a whole under current and selected future land use and management scenarios. This will allow identification of priority areas for management and the setting of more realistic and achievable targets. This project will also utilise a range of models capable of examining scenarios at a finer resolution, to link land management practices to catchment processes and water quality condition outcomes.

Riverine habitat condition assessment and review of management guidelines

Riparian vegetation buffers rivers from the impacts of land management activities, supports river banks and provides shade, habitat and food resources for both in-stream and terrestrial biota. The rehabilitation and protection of riparian vegetation and in-stream habitat is likely to be a major strategy for on-ground works funded under National Action Plan. In the past many riparian projects have adopted inappropriate techniques that have led to disappointing results. This project will:

Enhance community capacity to undertake monitoring of water quality targets

Regional Bodies will need to monitor progress against water quality targets and assess the success of projects. This project aims to enhance community capacity to undertake water quality monitoring, as community monitoring can be a useful source of data as well as fostering understanding and commitment. This will be primarily through the development of state-wide and regional data confidence guidelines, training and development of coordinators, provision of technical support and upgrading of monitoring methods. The project will investigate the linking of water quality information captured by community monitoring programs for integration and analysis at the state and national scales, using the regional information services framework developed and implemented under the proposed Regional Information Services Framework project.

Water quality impacts on ecosystem health

Currently little is known about how salinity and other water quality characteristics, such as turbidity, impact on river health. This knowledge is crucial if Regional Bodies are to set realistic standards and targets for river health. This project will assess the impact of salinity and water quality changes on riverine biota and ecological processes such as benthic metabolism and their relative tolerances. A model will be developed that predicts what process changes and what proportion of species will be lost if salinity and/or turbidity rises. The project will deliver regional standards and targets for river health assessment, and technical expertise in the response of river health indicators to stressors. This will ensure that realistic regional targets are set for river health.

Statewide Information Management Projects- $1,490,000

Regional Information Services Framework for Natural Resource Management

The project will ensure that there is a strategic and coordinated approach to Regional Information Services by accelerating the development and implementation of technical and institutional information frameworks building on the extensive work carried out by the State agencies over recent years. These frameworks will support the management, distribution and access to National Action Plan -related natural resource management information, primarily at the regional scale, for regional planning processes.

Commonwealth of Australia