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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
The Hon Peter McGauran MP
&
Western Australian Minister for the Environment
The Hon Mark McGowan MLA
&
Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry
The Hon Kim Chance MLC

17 May 2006

WA Rangelands celebrates $13.7 million regional vision


The last piece of the environmental protection ‘jigsaw’ for regional Western Australia was put in place today with the launch of a three-year $13.7 million plan to manage and care for the Rangelands’ precious natural resources.

Australian and Western Australian Government Ministers joined with the Rangelands Natural Resource Management Co-ordinating Group in Carnarvon this morning to celebrate the regional strategy and multimillion dollar joint investment plan.

The sheer size of the Rangelands makes today’s launch particularly significant. Covering almost 2 million square kilometres, this region represents 90 per cent of the State’s landmass and more than 75 per cent of the coastline.

Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said the community had worked long and hard on its shared vision.

“Today the Rangelands joins the Swan, South West, South Coast, Avon and Northern Agricultural regions in a ‘whole of catchment’ approach to the land and sea,” Senator Campbell said.

“And today we also reach a remarkable milestone: for the first time we have integrated natural resource management planning right across the State. The last piece of the puzzle is in place.

“We’re talking about an incredibly diverse part of Australia. Though sparsely populated, the Rangelands hosts thriving horticultural, mining and tourism industries. Pastoral leases cover 98 million hectares, stretching from the Kimberley to the Great Australian Bight.

“The region understands how important this pastoralism is and has allocated more than $1 million for activities on ecologically sustainable management.”

Senator Campbell said the Rangelands also featured two World Heritage-listed areas, conservation reserves, many native animals and plants and some of the last wild rivers in the country.

“So you can see why it’s crucial to get a good balance of environmental protection and economic viability. And that’s exactly what the community has achieved,” he said.

Western Australian Agriculture Minister, Kim Chance, said the Ord sub-region had already received major support from the jointly-funded National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality programme.

“Water quality issues often cross regional and state boundaries, and the Ord district is shared with the Northern Territory for this reason,” Mr Chance said.

“A trial of different irrigation systems will help landholders manage on-farm water use to reduce pollutants in drainage water. This is good news for business and the environment.

“Salinity will be tackled with practical, large-scale demonstration sites to give landholders a good idea of practices that can decrease groundwater levels. Ultimately this will help the community develop a longterm approach for salinity in the Ord.”

Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Mark McGowan, said coastal and marine protection was also high on the agenda.

“Many people come to this part of the world to experience the stark beauty of the Kimberley, the rich marine life of Shark Bay and a magnificent coastline,” Mr McGowan said.

“We want to continue to enjoy them in the future, so we must look after them now. Funded activities range from a survey of human impacts to support for local governments on sustainable coastal planning.

“This region is also home to some of our last wilderness areas and many places of special significance to Aboriginal communities. Indigenous groups will be closely involved in work to conserve these places.”

The Ministers congratulated the Rangelands NRM Co-ordinating Group on its commitment to a united plan, which has involved pastoralists and irrigators, Traditional Owners, environment groups, tourist operators and state agencies.

A summary of funded programmes is attached.

For more information contact Natalie Nelmes on (08) 9923 9990 or visit http://www.rangelandswa.info/.

Media contact:
Marianne McCabe (Minister Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640
Russ Neal (Minister McGauran) (02) 6277 7520 or 0413 601 303
Alicia Miriklis (Mr Chance’s office) (08) 9213 6700 or 0428 911 240
Kym Coolhaas (Mr McGowan’s office) (08) 9222 9111


Funded programmes Aust Govt
*NHT $
Aust Govt
NAP $
WA Govt
NAP $
SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT - activities include:
  • Best management practices with Ord catchment managers focusing on
    issues like erosion and fire management;
  • Work to reduce erosion in Lake Argyle and improve Ord River quality
  • Integrated fire management and fire control mechanisms on pastoral and
    Aboriginal land;
  • A trial of drainage and level furrow irrigation sites to test effectiveness in
    reducing water use in the Ord Irrigation scheme;
  • Training for Goldfields and Gascoyne Murchison pastoralists on
    rangelands ecology. Will also help develop property management plans;
  • Work to better understand and reduce threats to biodiversity assets, such
    as Karst systems. Will also expand pest control programmes; and
  • Work to finalise a demonstration farm project, including special purpose
    field days and newsletters.
4,370,000 1,170,000 1,170,000
SUSTAINABLE WATER MANAGEMENT - activities include:
  • A project to tackle water-based weeds and improve Indigenous
    understanding and involvement in managing water use issues;
  • Work on a user-friendly system to assess water-based plant condition in
    the Ord catchment. Landholders will be encouraged to participate;
  • Catchment action plans for Wooramel and Roderick River properties;
    fencing and removing stock in high priority areas of Fortescue River; and
    a tool for recreational river management;
  • A project to identify the major causes of plant biomass build-up (such as
    nutrient and sewerage; and work to reduce these causes;
  • Stormwater drainage planning, weed control and education to maintain
    healthy water quality in the Ord River between Lake Argyle and
    Kununurra Diversion Dam;
  • Weed control in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne-Murchison areas
  • A trial of on-farm water quality monitoring systems in the Ord Irrigation
    Area to reduce pollutants in drainage water;
  • Development of a geographic system to assess development impacts on
    surface water, groundwater and wetlands in the Pilbara and Goldfields;
  • Drainage demonstration and a tree planting trial in the Ord as a potential
    option to reduce groundwater levels; and
  • An assessment of possible future land use and irrigation system changes.
2,120,000 1,415,000 1,415,000
SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE COAST AND COASTAL
WATERS - activities include:

  • Recreational fishing surveys and a survey of human use impacts on Shark
    Bay;
  • Work to determine the extent of Indigenous harvest of fish resources, and
    the development of education programmes for sustainable use; and
  • Targeted funding for community, industry and government groups to
    support coastal planning initiatives and other work.
2,050,000    
Total joint NAP and Aust Govt *NHT funding: $13,710,000

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

Commonwealth of Australia