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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for theEnvironment and Heritage
David Kemp
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss
ACT Environment Minister
Jon Stanhope

24 August 2003

$2.8 Million for Major Environmental and Bushfire Recovery Work in ACT

Major environmental work targeting bushfire recovery and biodiversity protection in the ACT will receive a $2.8 million boost from the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust through an 'interim financial agreement' with the ACT Government.

Federal funding of $800,000 will be matched by the ACT government, delivering more than $2.8 million to protect and conserve the ACT's environment for 2003/04.

The funding - announced today by Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and ACT Environment Minister, Jon Stanhope - follows the signing of the Natural Heritage Trust bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the Australian Capital Territory on 27 March 2003.

Dr Kemp said today's funding announcement is an interim payment which will help the ACT to continue important large-scale environmental work targeting natural resource management.

"Further funding under the Natural Heritage Trust will be released once a Natural Resource Management Plan has been accredited by Commonwealth and State Ministers," Dr Kemp said.

"This Plan is being developed by the community-based ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee in consultation with key stakeholders and provides the basis for an investment strategy which will outline how Trust funding will be spent."

The interim NHT funding from the Commonwealth and ACT Government will provide:

Mr Truss said the funding commitment will not only assist recovery from the January 18 bushfires but it will fund key coordinator positions in the lead up to the second phase of the Natural Heritage Trust.

"The Commonwealth's contribution will allow for further development of the Territory's coordinator network especially in engaging the local Indigenous community in natural resource management issues," Mr Truss said.

Mr Stanhope welcomed the Commonwealth's funding commitment to assist with natural resource management in the region.

"We appreciate the recognition of the special needs placed on the ACT as a result of the January bushfires. The priority for the ACT is to return the landscape, biodiversity and natural resources to how it was before the January bushfires," Mr Stanhope said.

"The ACT is part of the Murrumbidgee catchment, so we will also employ a coordinator to progress works with the NSW Murrumbidgee catchment activities.

"Biodiversity conservation is also a high priority for the ACT Government and the assistance provided by the Commonwealth will complement the additional resources that the Territory is devoting to this area."

Commonwealth of Australia