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Joint Media Release
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon Warren Truss MP
&
Victorian Minister for Environment and Water
John Thwaites MP
&
Victorian Minister for Agriculture
Bob Cameron MP

16 December 2004

$4.2 Million to attack blackberry weed, fight salinity and protect our coastline


Australian and State Government funding of $4.2 million has today been committed to 17 projects in Victoria including an attack on the noxious Blackberry weed, protecting West Gippsland's coastal and marine ecosystems and address salinity and water quality.

The investment, from the Natural Heritage Trust's statewide component and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality's multi-regional fund, was announced today by Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Warren Truss, and Victorian Ministers for Environment and Water, John Thwaites and Agriculture, Bob Cameron.

Senator Campbell said that of the $4.2 million, $850,000 would activate five statewide research projects that would complement the community's environmental efforts.

"One project will help record the actions and achievements of national recovery plans for nearly 200 threatened species into an information system, to allow them to be geographically located, prioritised and collated for use by land managers and planning authorities," he said.

"Another project will see research into management measures used on the mouths of rivers, and the effect they have on the ecology of the rivers and oceans that they connect.

"Using native migratory fish as a model species, this research will help fill major knowledge gaps in our understanding of the connection between freshwater and marine ecosystems."

Mr Truss pointed to the statewide importance of the Blackberry project, which would support a Victorian Blackberry Taskforce project officer to oversee the management of the noxious weed, which invades the state's farms and public land.

"The Blackberry Taskforce project officer will help raise public awareness of Blackberries as an environmentally damaging weed, engage community groups in weed mapping, and set priorities for the fight against the spread of this major agricultural weed," he said.

Mr Thwaites said the $4.2 million included $2.7 million for 12 multi-regional projects, which would produce results across large catchments areas of Victoria.

"One of these includes a project that will improve understanding of landscape function and resilience across the sheep wheat belt ecosystems of Northern Victoria," he said.

"Another community-focused project will inspire locals to get involved at the organisational, decision-making and hands-on levels of environmental action."

Mr Cameron highlighted another multi-regional project that would help re-establish native vegetation on saline soils.

"These funds will help examine the soil biology of saline soils in order to develop better means of re-establishing deep-rooted perennial vegetation. This will lead to improvements in replanting efforts in a variety of landscapes and environments."

For more information: www.lendahand.gov.au. A full list of statewide and multi-regional projects is attached.

Media contacts:
Minister Campbell: Wayne Grant (02) 6277 7640 or 0407 845 280
Minister Truss: Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433
Minister Thwaites: Geoff Fraser (03) 9651 5799 or 0407 360 256
Minister Cameron: Campbel Giles (03) 9651 5799 or 0407 972 900

Natural Heritage Trust Statewide Proposals 2004-2005
Project Proponent 2004-05
Assessing the impact of estuary management on the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. Sponsoring Region: West Gippsland University of Melbourne $136,500
Reinstating grasslands and grassy woodland understoreys - scientific support for the implementation of Native Vegetation Plans. Sponsoring Region: Wimmera and Corangamite. Greening Australia Victoria $320,000
Actions for biodiversity outcomes -improved targeting of recovery efforts. Sponsoring Region: Goulburn Broken, North East and Corangamite. Department of Sustainability and Environment $50,000
Analysis of changes in seagrass health at a Multi-regional level. Sponsoring Region: Port Phillip Department of Primary Industries: (PIRVic) $240,000
Victorian Blackberry Taskforce Project Officer and operational funding. Sponsoring Region: North East. Victorian Blackberry Taskforce $103,500
TOTAL $850,000
NAP Multi-regional Projects 2004-05
Note: Australian Government contribution is 50 per cent of funds per activity
Project Proponent 2004-05
Laying the foundation for landscape and ecosystem restoration across low rainfall biomes of northern Victoria Mallee CMA / Department of Primary Industries $150,000
Community strategies - developing a framework and targets for effective community engagement and capacity building for natural resource management outcomes Corangamite CMA $180,000
Enhanced re-establishment of native vegetation in saline soils North Central CMA / Department of Primary Industries $240,166
TOTAL   $570,166
Additional funding for multi-regional projects first funded in 2002-03, 2003-04
Project Proponent 2004-05
Biodiversity thresholds to salinity - database population Department of Sustainability and Environment $207,500
Magnesium Hydroxide from brine hot spot interception points Pyramid Salt / Murray Darling Basin Commission $51,000
Local Government capacity building Municipal Association of Victoria $156,000
Development of an assets framework Department of Sustainability and Environment/Environment Protection Authority $660,000
Catchment information management Department of Primary Industries $350,000
Implementing catchment caps for surface water Department of Sustainability and Environment $85,000
Integrated monitoring program for NAP outcomes Department of Sustainability and Environment/Environment Protection Authority $383,170
Relationships between salinity solutions and biodiversity Arthur Rylah Institute $662,500
Lower Murray Landscape Futures Land Technology Alliance $240,000
TOTAL   $2,795,170
Commonwealth of Australia