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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp MP
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Minister for Mines
Stephen Robertson
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss

Queensland Minister for the Environment
Dean Wells

21 August 2003

$16 Million Injected into Queensland's Environment

Major environmental and sustainable agricultural work in regional Queensland today received a $16 million boost from the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

The funding is for 2003/04 and is the result of an interim financial agreement between the Federal and Queensland Governments. It is designed to help regional communities develop their own natural resource management plans, particularly those regions that have not received funding under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

The interim agreement is a key step towards finalising the Natural Heritage Trust Bilateral Agreement for Queensland that will formalise ongoing natural resource management funding for the state over the next three years.

The funding - announced today by Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Stephen Robertson, and Queensland Minister for Environment, Dean Wells - goes towards establishing new regional bodies, helps regions develop natural resource management plans, provides funding for facilitators and coordinators and funds projects identified by communities as high priority.

Mr Truss said Queensland's regional bodies are developing and fine tuning their integrated natural resource management plans for formal accreditation by the Federal and Queensland Governments. Once accredited, the Governments will invest in delivering on the plans' objectives.

"The plans are whole-of-region strategies to manage natural resources in each of the regions. They set out a range of activities to improve agricultural practices and protect native plants and animals," Mr Truss said.

Dr Kemp said regional natural resource management bodies are a relatively new concept in some areas of Queensland and many had to be created from scratch. It is essential that a variety of interests are represented in the bodies including local government, indigenous people, and where relevant, people with knowledge about coastal and marine issues.

"Some of this funding is going towards helping these groups set up and ensuring they have the necessary skills and knowledge to develop and manage the implementation of their natural resource management plans," Dr Kemp said.

Mr Robertson welcomed the Federal Government's commitment to fund key community group facilitator and co-ordinator positions in the lead up to the second phase of the Natural Heritage Trust.

"Facilitators and coordinators help the community participate in regional natural resource management activities by providing skills and expertise in tackling local environmental and agricultural challenges," Mr Robertson said.

"The interim funding agreement ensures facilitators and coordinators are able to continue their important work, and ensures their skills benefit community groups involved in local projects."

Mr Wells said the interim funding also allows for projects identified by communities as high priority to be considered prior to accreditation of the regional plans.

"These projects could include information gathering activities for regional plans or education and training for regional bodies so they are better equipped to devise their plans," Mr Wells said.

Commonwealth of Australia