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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Peter McGauran
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
&
Dr Judy Edwards MLA
Western Australian Minister for the Environment; Science
&
Kim Chance MLC
Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Forestry

25 November 2005

Avon region launches 13.8 million plan for the land


Almost $14 million in funding will help communities in Western Australia’s Avon region to combat salinity, protect the bush and strengthen rural industries.

The Australian and Western Australian Governments today launched the region’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) Strategy and one-year, $13.8 million Investment Plan.

Federal MP for Pearce, Judi Moylan, together with the Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Dr Judy Edwards, represented governments at a special event in Northam today.

The Avon covers around 12 million hectares and is home to 46,000 residents. Its stunning ancient landscape features granite outcrops, six nationally significant wetlands and the Avon River, which flows into the Swan-Canning estuary.

Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said the Avon Catchment Council had worked hard on its plan to protect these natural assets.

“Like other regions, the Avon has taken up the fight to reclaim our beautiful state from the scourge of salinity and other issues like declining water quality and invasive pests,” Senator Campbell said.

“Dryland salinity threatens up to 27 per cent of the region’s land area, so this is a major focus of work funded under the investment plan. One activity will assess and demonstrate engineering options, while others will identify the threat to towns and help reduce nutrients in the Avon River.”

Senator Campbell said protecting groundwater assets was also high on the agenda.

“Fresh groundwater is in short supply in the Avon and little is known about potential resources. One project will identify and monitor what’s available and help protect it from salinity and contamination,” he said.

“Another water management programme will target farm water supplies, with over $700,000 going into work to demonstrate how careful planning can address problems like flooding and erosion.”

Western Australian Agriculture Minister, Kim Chance, said the sustainable industries programme would support rural businesses by keeping natural resources healthy and encouraging best practice.

“More than 60 per cent of the Avon is used for agriculture, and the land needs to be in good shape for farm businesses to be successful in the longer term,” he said.

“Work under the sustainable industries programme will develop practical ways to reduce salinity and soil acidity, while another activity will map and reduce the impact of pests like wild dogs, foxes, rabbits as well as skeleton weed and bridal creeper.”

Western Australian Environment Minister, Dr Judy Edwards, said the region’s native plants, animals and ecosystems would be protected with the support of local communities.

“People will be working together to assess and monitor the outstanding natural diversity that makes the Avon region so special,” she said.

“Activities will range from replanting and pest control to protecting species like the Malleefowl. In addition, the $2.6 million ‘conserving regional ecoscapes’ programme will combat threats - like salinity - in areas covering some 720,000 hectares of the Avon River Basin.”

The Ministers congratulated the Avon Catchment Council on their achievement and wished communities well with the work ahead.

A summary of programmes funded under the 2005/06 Avon Regional Investment Plan is attached.

For more information contact Wayne Clarke, Avon Catchment Council Chair, on (08) 9690 2267 or visit www.avonicm.org.au.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's Office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Russ Neal (Minister McGauran's office) (02) 6277 7520 or 0413 601 303
Alicia Miriklis (Mr Chance’s office) (08) 9213 6700 or 0428 911 240
Nigel Higgs (Dr Edwards’ office) (08) 9220 5056 or 0408 051 772


Summary of Avon Regional Investment Plan (2005/06)
Funded projects Aust Govt *NHT $ Aust Govt NAP $ WA Govt NAP $
Integrated Water Management
Avon River waterway management: will maintain and improve water quality in the Avon River by reducing nutrient levels and suspended solids being discharged into the Swan-Canning Estuary.   393,000 393,000
Groundwater source identification, assessment and monitoring: groundwater is in short supply in the Avon and little is known about potential resources. This project will better define what’s available and lead to improved management and protection from salinity.   230,000 230,000
Protection of community assets: dryland salinity, waterlogging and flooding are serious threats to the Avon. This project will help address them by developing plans to reduce the cause of the problem, and use engineering systems to gain economic value from rising water tables.   177,000 177,000
Protection of transport assets – dryland salinity: will kick-start an inventory of transport assets at risk from spreading dryland salinity, and in partnership with local government identify and use best practice to address the threat.   155,000 155,000
Dryland salinity – salinity management: will assess and demonstrate best practice engineering options to manage surface and groundwater and use activities like planting deep-rooted perennials to control groundwater. Will also provide input to regional drainage governance.   875,000 875,000
Water management and self-sufficiency: will identify the potential for more efficient use of farm water supplies, and encourage catchment planning to address problems associated with salinity and erosion.   351,825 351,825
Sustainable Industries
Spatial distribution of priority environmental pests: aims to reduce the impact of pests like wild dogs and rabbits by mapping their severity, developing coordinated management plans and encouraging the involvement of local stakeholders. 235,000    
Soil acidity – identification of contributing land management practices and options: will develop and encourage sustainable land practices to reduce soil acidity and groundwater run-off, which should in turn help to lower water tables and nutrients in waterways.   447,525 447,525
Soil health – awareness of soil health limiting factors: this project will improve water quality by encourage better farm fertiliser management to reduce nutrient run-off.   376,525 376,525
Natural Diversity and Asset Management
Inventory and information management: will identify and map regional assets and the threats to them. This information will then be used to guide future projects targeting issues like salinity, water quality and biodiversity protection. 400,000 210,000 210,000
Saving native species and communities at risk: funding will develop a strategic plan for threatened species, many of which exist on valley floors threatened by dryland salinity. On-ground work will include replanting, pest control, fencing and breeding programs. 860,000 255,000 255,000
Healthy ecosystems: targets aquatic ecosystems of regional and national significance and will encourage an integrated approach for landholders to use systems that address the causes of salinity and reduced water quality.   850,000 850,000
Conserving regional ecoscapes: will focus on 12 ‘ecoscapes’ of a scale of 30,000 to 70,000 ha that best represent the natural diversity of the Avon River Basin. Initial work will take place in four areas that incorporate valley floor and mid-slope locations threatened by salinity.   1,300,500 1,300,500
Local bushland management: aims to support and increase local government and community actions and knowledge to manage issues that cause salinity. 485,000 243,188 243,188
Fire management for biodiversity outcomes: will develop best practice fire management to achieve better health for biodiversity, as well as education and awareness activities. 80,000    
Sub-totals: 2,060,000 5,864,563 5,864,563
Total joint NAP and Aust Govt *NHT funding: 13,789,126

*As part of the agreement between the Australian and Western Australian Governments, Trust funds are matched by cash and in kind contributions from the state government.

© Commonwealth of Australia