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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss

22 October 2003

National Land and Water Audit Enters its Second Phase


At today's national expert workshop on the economic valuation of biodiversity, the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, announced a new phase in the development of Australia's snapshot of land and water resources condition across the country - the National Land and Water Resources Audit - with $3 million in funding and a new strategic plan.

This builds on the $34 million already invested in the audit by the Australian Government.

The Australian Government Ministers for Agriculture, Warren Truss, and the Environment, Dr David Kemp, said the audit is funded through the Natural Heritage Trust to assess the state of Australia's natural resources.

The information, collated from State and regional sources, will enable the Government to evaluate outcomes from the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

"If suitable information is available so that biodiversity can be appropriately valued, decision makers - both in Government and in the community - will be well informed to make decisions and investments which will help put Australia on a more sustainable path," Dr Kemp.

"Any resource manager will tell you that one of the fundamental tools for environmental and resource management is the knowledge of the extent and value of what you are managing. This knowledge provides the certainty land owners need to give them the confidence to invest in the most sustainable management practices."

Mr Truss said it was vital for land managers to have access to broad level information about land use and associated natural resource condition.

"We need to be able to report quickly and accurately on the impacts that existing land use and a variety of public and private investments are having on those resources over time," Mr Truss said.

"The audit brings the relevant data together in a form that, for example, will enable land managers to monitor how a region's water quality is changing over time in response to altered land use patterns or production methods."

Dr Kemp said partnerships between the Australian and State and Territory Governments were a key aspect of the audit's new phase.

"A new advisory council has representation from all States and the Northern Territory, recognising the benefits of working together to gather the data," Dr Kemp said.

"This phase will allow linkages to be extended across government, industry and regional organisations to improve our knowledge of how the productive use of natural resources is having an impact on the environmental, social and economic aspects of the Australian landscape."

The Ministers said the data would continue to be publicly available to allow the community and industry to make well-informed natural resource management decisions and report objectively on natural resource indicators.

The strategic plan is available at www.nlwra.gov.au/stratplan0307.pdf or by calling the National Land and Water Resources Audit office on (02) 6257 9516.

The national expert workshop on the economic valuation of biodiversity is bringing together experts, researchers and opinion leaders active in the fields of direct and indirect use of biodiversity to explore the effectiveness of economic valuation of biodiversity to address biodiversity conservation objectives and demonstrate some current Australian case studies.

For a copy of the Minister's address to the National Workshop on Economic Valuation of Biodiversity, visit http://www.deh.gov.au/minister/env/2003/sp22oct03.html.


The National Land and Water Resources Audit

Phase 1 (1997-2002):

The Australian Natural Resources Atlas and the Australian Natural Resources Data Library, provide on-line access to data and information for improved NRM decision making. They are available at www.nlwra.gov.au/atlas/ and adl.brs.gov.au/ADLsearch/.

Phase 2

The National Land and Water Resources Audit will be funded from 2002 until June 2007.

It will ensure data and information about natural resource condition - the state of our native fauna and flora, salinity, and water and soil quality - in catchments and regions, is collected and presented on a consistent basis for all States and Territories.

Natural resource managers will be able to use data about region and catchment condition and trends in condition to better target activities aimed at environmental recovery and improving the sustainability of agriculture.

Data that is collected and presented consistently by all jurisdictions and regional groups ensures valid natural resource management comparisons can be made on a broad scale.

Consistent standards of data and information are needed to maximise outcomes from the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the recently announced $500 million to be spent on the Murray Darling Basin.

The Audit will continue to improve data and information collection methods so issues in regions and catchments can be compared consistently. It will also coordinate the activities of the many natural resource advisory groups to focus on the best way to monitor natural resources so management can be achieved in a more targeted way.

Further information is available from the Audit management unit.

Blair Wood
Executive Director
Phone: (02) 6257 3067
Fax: (02) 6257 9518
email: info@nlwra.gov.au
web site: http://www.nlwra.gov.au

Commonwealth of Australia