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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Caring for our Country supports Southern Wetlands and Northern Rangelands in WA

Joint media release
19 September 2008

The Rudd Government has announced six projects to improve water quality and biodiversity in Western Australia, through the Caring for our Country initiative.

The projects will focus on seven internationally significant Ramsar wetlands - Lake Muir-Byenup, Lake Toolibin, Peel-Yalgorup, Vasse-Wonnerup, Lake Warden, Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke said the projects would be funded with $29.4 million from the Caring for our Country initiative.

The projects will include work to address waterlogging, salinity and nutrient run-off from agricultural land.

The Caring for our Country funding will focus on six national priorities: the national reserve system; biodiversity and natural icons; coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats; sustainable farm practices; natural resource management in remote and northern Australia and community skills, knowledge and engagement.

Minister Garrett said Western Australia contained 12 Ramsar sites and 120 nationally important wetlands.

"Wetlands are the 'kidneys' of our river systems, naturally filtering out impurities and nutrients. They also provide vital habitat for native wildlife. These funds will assist in the protection of these valuable community assets and their conservation," Mr Garrett said.

More than $1.2 million would be spent tackling deadly plant disease Phytophthora dieback in the south west, including the Swan-Canning river catchment.

"Phytophthora dieback is a deadly, introduced plant disease which is common in southern Australia including the Perth metropolitan area. A soil borne disease, it kills plants leading to a loss of bushland biodiversity," Mr Garrett said.

Minister Burke said farmers in Western Australia would benefit from a range of projects which will help them improve land management.

This will include the establishment of woody perennials that lower water tables and provide pasture for stock, an expansion of minimum-tillage systems and activities to improve soil acidity levels.

"The Rudd Government recognises that farmers are on the front-line when it comes to the future impact of climate change," Mr Burke said.

"By helping our farmers to continue their work improving land management and sustainability on-farm, we will support both regional communities and the environment."

The $2.25 billion Caring for our Country package is a five-year initiative to deliver a new, coordinated approach to environmental management in Australia, built on a set of consistent national targets.

It is part of the Rudd Government's plans to assist our primary industries and the environment to adapt to a changing climate.

For more information visit www.nrm.gov.au 

Western Australia Region Summaries Caring for our Country 2008-09


Rangelands: $4.4 million

Funding seeks to better manage biodiversity in the Rangelands by trialling and promoting improved fire regimes in the Kimberley, monitoring weeds of national significance in key catchments using remote sensing, and determining human use impacts on priority coastal environments.  Water quality in critical aquatic habitats such as the Ramsar listed Lakes Kununurra and Argyle, and the priority rivers Fitzroy, Fortescue and De Grey, will be improved by addressing mining and tourism impacts, over-grazing, fire, feral animals and weeds. A pilot program will assist Indigenous communities to harness the development opportunities of carbon-trading in the WA rangelands. Work will commence on a Kimberley 'Caring for Country Plan' which will provide a regionally coordinated approach to Aboriginal land, sea and water management.  For more information contact the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group on (08) 9956 3320 or visit www.rangelandswa.info 

Northern Agricultural Region: $4.5 million

Key activities include implementation of recovery plans for threatened flora and fauna; control of invasive feral animals and weeds; management of high value native vegetation using market-based instruments and incentives; implementation of on-ground works to protect and rehabilitate dunes; application of environmental management systems to increase adoption of sustainable farming practices; the establishment of woody perennials that will lower water tables and improve grazing for stock; and increased engagement of Traditional Owners in the management and protection of sites of Aboriginal significance.  For more information contact the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council on (08) 9964 9774 or visit www.nacc.com.au 

Avon: $4.6 million

Key activities include on ground recovery actions to protect high priority species, ecological communities and ecosystems in the Dale Catchment and other areas of the Avon River Basin; implementation of River Recovery Plans to improve water quality and ecological function of the Avon River, tributaries and river pools; initiatives to increase indigenous and wider community engagement in natural resource management; the use of minimum tillage systems and salt tolerant shrubs, trees and perennial pastures to improve ecosystem function and production; and activities to improve soil acidity levels. For more information contact the Avon Catchment Council on (08) 9690 2250 or visit www.wheatbeltnrm.org.au 

South West: $6.6 million

Assistance will be provided for landholders with issues, such as soil and nutrient management, management of seasonal variability, and property planning through the Best Farms program, for example integrating perennials and tree farming to assist with salinity management and encouraging the uptake market based instruments.  Other key activities include the protection of water quality and conservation works for four Ramsar wetland sites such as the Peel-Yalgorup; conservation and protection works for nationally listed threatened species such as Carnaby's Black Cockatoo, Burrowing Crayfish and the Red-tailed Phascogale and development of strategies to protect significant coastal and marine habitat and wildlife such as seals and Hooded Plover.  For more information contact the South West Catchments Council on 08 9780 6193 or visit www.swcatchmentscouncil.com 

Swan: $3.2 million

Key activities include protection of priority reaches of the Canning River and Eastern Tributaries (through re-vegetation, fencing and bank stabilisation); disease control for the invasive Phytophthora dieback; implementation of strategic weed management plans; support of Perth's Biodiversity Project through land use planning and management of natural areas; manage and protect coastal natural areas; water monitoring activities in priority catchments; foster sustainable behaviour change in small to medium size enterprises to improve environmental practices; implementing Best Management Practices for grape and vegetable growers and orchardists; and strategies to increase cooperation between all NRM players in the region. For more information contact the Swan Catchment Council (08) 9374 3309 or visit www.swancatchmentcouncil.org 

South Coast: $5.9 million

Key activities include protecting threatened species such as Gilbert's Potoroo and the Noisy Scrub Bird through habitat survey and monitoring and fencing of remnant vegetation; preparing a risk assessment map to protect healthy vegetation from Phytophthora dieback; promoting farm forestry, planting of perennials and installation of stock crossings to improve the water quality in important catchments such as the Ramsar listed Lake Warden Wetland system, Wilson Inlet, Wellstead Estuary/Bremer River and Oyster Harbour; and on ground works such as track bollarding, dune fencing and signage to protect priority coastal areas. For more information contact the South Coast Natural Resource Management Team Inc on (08) 9845 8537 or visit www.southcoastnrm.org 

Commonwealth of Australia