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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Peter McGauran
New South Wales Minister for Natural Resources, Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Minerals
Ian Macdonald
Bob Debus
New South Wales Minister for the Environment

22 September 2005

$274.4 million boost for nine NSW CMAs

Unique waterways, farming lands and threatened species in NSW are set to benefit from a major funding injection worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars for new local catchment management plans across the State.

The $274.4 million funding announcement was made jointly by Australian Government Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Ian Campbell and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, and NSW Government Ministers for the Environment, Bob Debus, and Natural Resources, Primary Industries, and Minerals, Ian Macdonald.

The multi-million dollar funding package will go directly to nine of the 13 Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) in NSW Border Rivers Gwydir, Central West, Lachlan, Lower Murray-Darling, Murray, Murrumbidgee, Namoi, Northern Rivers, and Western. The funding covers three years from 2004-05 to 2006-07.

Senator Campbell said each of the CMAs had previously devised a regional plan for managing the natural resources in their region, which has been accredited by both governments.

"We are now at the next step of allocating funding so the CMAs can get activities underway. This builds on initial funding announced last year for s in NSW," Senator Campbell said.

"Activities receiving funding vary according to regional priorities. For example in Namoi native plantings are underway along 145 kilometres of riverbank, and 175 kilometres of vegetation is being protected with fencing and weeding to stop the riverbanks eroding and sediment entering the water.

"Fifty engineering structures are being installed to prevent stream degradation and improve conditions for aquatic life. The Namoi CMA is also forming partnerships with cotton industry irrigators to improve water efficiency and reduce runoff of fertilisers into local waterways."

Mr McGauran said the CMAs are working with landholders to improve sustainable agricultural practices.

"Work is underway in the Lower Murray-Darling to improve irrigation techniques on farms to reduce the major causes of salinity," Mr McGauran said.

"Technology that helps farmers tell when crops are dry and need watering is just one method to achieve both production and environmental benefits. There will also be training activities to help farmers learn about new techniques and technologies."

Mr Debus said many of the State's rarest native plants and animals will benefit from the funding package and the local work of the CMAs.

"For example, in the Murray catchment 35,000 hectares of remnant native vegetation will now be protected, 7,400 hectares of rare vegetation types, such as Grey Box Woodland and Sandhill Woodland, will be restored, and 1,100 hectares of native vegetation along riverbanks will be conserved," Mr Debus said.

"Providing funding for these sorts of local projects will ensure the NSW Government's new native vegetation and threatened species protection laws work effectively."

Mr Macdonald said the CMAs are targeting weeds and feral animals, as these are major causes of environmental damage and adversely impact on the productivity of natural resources in NSW.

"In the Western catchment feral pigs are being targeted as they are damaging wetland and riparian areas. Weed species such as mesquite, Parkinsonia, parthenium weed and Hudson pear are also being controlled.

"Soil health is also a focus in the catchment's cropping areas. Landholders are encouraged to adopt practices, such as conservation farming, that reduce the potential for erosion while maintaining a healthy soil structure.

"The nine CMAs are also receiving a share of $148 million worth of resources and staff to be transferred to NSW CMAs over four years from the former NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources and the new NSW Department of Natural Resources," Mr Macdonald said.

The $274.4 million investment in the nine Catchment Management Authorities in NSW is joint funding from the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (joint Australian and NSW Governments), Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, NSW State Sustainability Funding, and NSW Land and Water Management Fund.

A summary of the nine Catchment Management Authority activities in NSW is attached.

Media Contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell) (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Gemma Allman (Minister McGauran) (02) 6277 7520 or 0408 971 708
Lisa Miller (Minister Macdonald) (02) 9228 3344 or 0410 663 723
Chris Ward (Minister Debus) (02) 9995 5347 or 0418 424 654

$274.4 million boost for nine (9) Catchment Management Authorities in NSW

Border Rivers Gwydir - $26.3 million

In this catchment there is a strong focus on targeting dryland salinity. Activities include compiling a map that identifies areas in the catchment that are impacted by salinity, planting deep rooted perennial trees and shrubs as a way of tackling salinity, and activities to conserve deep rooted plants. The CMA is also working with local landholders to promote techniques aimed at reversing the impact of salinity, such as changes to irrigation practices.

Central West - $32 million

Tackling salinity and improving water quality are major targets in this catchment. A large portion of the funding is going towards on-farm projects many of which focus on planting more perennial vegetation. Local landholders are being encouraged to participate in property planning programs. There are also a number of activities to prevent stream banks eroding, mainly by planting trees, shrubs and grasses along the riverbanks.

Lachlan - $32.5 million

Improving river health, protecting native plants and animals, and promoting sustainable land use are priorities in this catchment. Over 180 kilometres of vegetation along waterways is being rejuvenated with plantings of trees, shrubs and grasses, removal of weeds and fencing off of sensitive areas to restrict stock access. New agreements with landholders to ensure the restoration and rehabilitation of 60,000 hectares in the catchment have also been put in place. 150 landholder-initiated projects have been approved by the CMA since July 2005. A threatened species recovery plan is being implemented to save the Macquarie Perch. The region's landholders are being encouraged to participate in sustainable land management programs aimed at increasing their knowledge of agricultural practices that minimise the causes of salinity.

Lower Murray-Darling - $17.2 million

The health of the Murray River is a major focus of activities in this catchment. Irrigation areas that have been operating for a number of years will be investigated with the aim of putting in place two drainage schemes in the worst areas. These schemes will capture irrigation run-off reducing the amount of salt and nutrients entering waterways. Irrigation farmers will receive training in improved techniques and assistance to adopt improved practices. There will be works targeting lakes and wetlands in the catchment as well as activities in rangeland areas to improve vegetation condition and to help the recovery of up to 20 threatened species including the southern bell frog and the mallee fowl.

Murray - $53.6 million

There is a strong emphasis on on-ground work to improve water use efficiency and to protect and enhance native vegetation in this catchment. Activities include improving the skills and knowledge of irrigators in whole-farm planning, and constructing over 600 farm drainage, reuse and storage systems. In addition, 35,000 hectares of remnant native vegetation will be protected, 7,400 hectares of under-represented vegetation types, such as Grey Box Woodland and Sandhill Woodland, will be restored and 1,100 hectares of native vegetation along riverbanks will be conserved.

Murrumbidgee - $47.3 million

Salinity in rural and urban environments, declining soil health and water quality, and native plant and animal loss are all major issues in this catchment. Activities include installing more efficient irrigation systems, improving on-farm water recycling, improving plant water use and undertaking whole farm planning with the aim of reducing the causes of salinity. The catchment's endangered vegetation communities including the White Box/Yellow Box/Blakeleys Red Gum Woodlands are being protected and sensitive areas along rivers and streams will be fenced to control stock access.

Namoi - $24.6 million

This catchment is targeting a range of natural resource management issues including weeds and feral animals, salinity and water quality, and sustainable agriculture. Activities include planting 750 hectares of native trees, shrubs and grasses to build up habitat for local threatened species and conservation programs that will see 13,200 hectares of native vegetation protected. Fifty engineering structures will be installed as a way of preventing stream degradation and to improve conditions for aquatic life. Local landholders will also be encouraged to adopt sustainable farming systems as a way of protecting and improving their soil.

Northern Rivers - $21.9 million

Protecting the catchments valuable habitat is a key priority in this catchment. Activities include tree planting, fencing off remnant patches of vegetation so stock cannot trample on them, and weeding sensitive areas so that they can grow and regenerate. Management plans for local wetlands are being developed that address water quality, water sharing, and how to deal with pollution and the impact of nearby farming. Local Aboriginal communities will also receive funding to carry out on-ground natural resource management activities in the catchment.

Western - $19 million

Increasing the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices is a major emphasis in this catchment. Landholders are being helped to improve sustainable grazing practices in line with voluntary, industry-developed codes of practice. Conservation farming that aims to reduce the potential for erosion while maintaining a healthy soil structure is being encouraged along with improvements to farm layout to optimise water use. The catchment's rivers and wetland ecosystems are also being targeted with activities to improve the condition of riverbanks to prevent erosion, and the habitats of native fish and threatened aquatic species.
Commonwealth of Australia