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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

18 August 2006

Tree project good for the environment and for business


Almost 25 million trees will be planted on farms across Western Australia by 2008 thanks to a $64 million project launched today by the Australian and Western Australian Governments.

Run in partnership by regional groups and the Forest Products Commission, the Strategic Tree-Farming initiative is the largest publicly-funded tree planting scheme in Australia. It is also the biggest project under the joint National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality programme.

Australian and Western Australian Ministers celebrated the launch with communities and landholders today at a property near Mount Barker in the State’s south.

Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said the initiative would develop new industries, create jobs and tackle salinity.

“It can be challenging to develop a fully commercial venture in places with lower rainfall and sandy soils, and that’s where our project comes in,” Senator Campbell said.

“Joint funding has already helped plant six million Maritime Pine, Sandalwood and Eucalypt seedlings. These hardy trees lower water tables, reduce salinity and when mature can be used for a range of products.

“The first phase of planting involved almost 100 landholders in the Northern Agricultural, Avon, South West and South Coast regions, with many more expressing interest in work ahead.

“This project shows that the environment can be good for business, and business can be good for the environment.”

Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry, Kim Chance, said participating farmers received an income from the use of their land.

“This is a good mix of upfront payments and annuities for managing the trees, and profit-sharing for a return on the end products,” Mr Chance said.

“Trees like Sugar Gum, Sydney Blue Gum and Sandalwood were chosen for this project because they have a proven ability to deliver commercial returns in medium rainfall zones.

“The gums are used for things like flooring, joinery and furniture, while Sandalwood is used for oils, perfumes, incense and crafts through local and export markets. In fact Sandalwood has been a major export for Western Australia since the mid 1800s.

“We’re keen to see this project serve as a model for other States and hope it will also encourage private sector investment in sustainable, profitable industries.

“The trees will also provide long-term benefits over the life of the first rotation, which could be 30 years or more.

“One of the reasons we’re providing direct payments is that we recognise crops will have off-farm advantages like better water quality and healthier soils.

“Plants like Maritime Pine thrive in deep-draining sands, which are susceptible to erosion and often the culprit of high groundwater recharge. This can affect both farms and the surrounding environment.”

Western Australian Minister for the Environment Mark McGowan said planting in Esperance, for example, was helping protect the Lake Gore system, which is on the Ramsar list of internationally significant wetlands.

The ministers congratulated regional groups on their cooperative approach and dedication to the project, and wished them well with the work ahead.

Detail on funding and planting locations is below. For more information contact James Dallmeyer on (08) 9475 8882 or 0429 111 487 or visit www.fpc.wa.gov.au. For more information on the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality visit www.nrm.gov.au

Media contact:
Marianne McCabe (Senator Campbell) (02) 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580
Russ Neal (Minister McGauran) 02 6277 7520 or 0413 601 303
Alicia Miriklis (Minister Chance) (08) 9213 6700 or 0428 911 240
Kym Coolhaas (Minister McGowan) (08) 9222 9111


Strategic Tree-Farming Initiative: funding and plantings 2005 – 2008**

NRM Region Species Number of seedlings Number of hectares
Northern Agricultural
$14.9 million
Maritime Pine 5.76 million 4,119
Sandalwood 744,000 465
Subtotals 6.51 million 4,584
Avon
$7.14 million
Maritime Pine 991,000 708
Sandalwood 1.96 million 1,226
Subtotals 2.95 million 1,943
South Coast
$24.74 million
Maritime Pine 6.11 million 4,363
*Eucalyptus Sawlog 1.68 million 1,682
Sandalwood 1.75 million 1,098
Subtotals 9.54 million 7,143
South West
$17.56 million
Maritime Pine 278,600 199
*Eucalyptus Sawlog 2.94 million 2,939
Sandalwood 2.28 million 1,431
Subtotals 5.49 million 4,569
TOTALS 24.49 million 18,230

* Eucalyptus Sawlog refers to a number of different species including Sydney Blue Gum, Sugar Gum, Spotted Gum, Southern Mahogany and Swamp Yate.

** Seedling numbers are based on 1,400 of pines planted per hectare, 1,600 of sandalwood per hectare and 1,000 of eucalypt sawlogs per hectare.

Commonwealth of Australia