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Natural Heritage Trust

Media Release
Joint Statement by Minister for the Environment, Robert Hill, and
Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson

$23 MILLION FROM TRUST TARGETS MILDURA TO PHILLIP ISLAND


24 October 1997

More than $23.8 million for 416 projects has been announced for Victoria in the first major round of funding from the Natural Heritage Trust.

At the same time, an agreement jointly committing the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to the Trust has been signed in Melbourne.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Primary Industries and Energy Minister John Anderson have approved the projects as the first instalment of at least $33 million in Trust finding to Victoria this financial year.

Senator Hill says the range of projects submitted by Victorian community groups is a testament to the willingness of Australians to join in the nation's largest environmental rescue effort.

"Community groups have soundly endorsed the Natural Heritage Trust and its aim of building on the enthusiasm and commitment of the community to work for a better environment," Senator Hill said.

"The successful projects range from a $15 000 revegetation project put forward by the Nagambie Landcare Group to the $60 000 provided to the Mid-Murray Field Naturalists Association to protect the habitats of the Malleefowl and the Regent Parrot.

"The funding will allow on-the-ground projects to begin, such as protecting grassy woodlands around Euroa, restoring water quality in the Loddon River and Serpentine Creek, and restoring a significant wildlife corridor on Phillip Island.

"Projects have been approved across the State and will involve the community working in concert with local and State government agencies and industry."

Mr Anderson says the funding package announced today in relation to the National Landcare Program does not include funding for new State agency projects, which are still being negotiated between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.

"The Trust funding will empower Victorians to address pressing environmental, resource management and sustainable agriculture concerns," Mr Anderson said.

"These projects will lead to more bushland, greater protection for wildlife, lower saline water tables, and action to halt erosion and soil quality decline, and as a valuable byproduct will create jobs in the environment field and boost eco-tourism.

"Practical action by groups such as the Omeo Landcare Group, the Hopkins Moyne Farm Tree and Land Management Group and the Victorian Farmers' Federation will address the critical issues of erosion and salinity.

"The CRA Project Platypus will concentrate on managing the Upper Wimmera catchment with a $99 800 grant, the Bendigo Creek Floodplain Group receives $7 000 to address local land degradation problems while the Mallee Landcare Group will tackle sandy soils with a $6 000 grant.

"Among a myriad of other projects, the Murroon Landcare Group receives $25 000 to restore riparian vegetation along Gosling Creek and the Panyyabyr Landcare Group will regenerate native vegetation along waterways of the Upper Wannon River Catchment.

"Funding coordinated through the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to catchments in Victoria's part of the Basin has increased from some $3 million in 1996-97 to in excess of $11 million for 1997-98, a four-fold increase to fulfil the Commonwealth Government's promise to accelerate natural resource management activities in the Basin.

"The emphasis for Murray-Darling 2001 is on water quality, riparian land systems, salinity management and riverine environment issues."

Trust programs such as Landcare, Murray-Darling 2001, the Endangered Species Program, Bushcare and Farm Forestry are included in today's announcement. Projects for the Trust's Coasts and Clean Seas program will be announced early next year.

The Ministers said the signing of the agreement by Senator Hill, Mr Anderson and Victoria's Environment Minister Marie Tehan and Deputy Premier Patrick McNamara reinforced the Natural Heritage Trust message that environmental repair must be a partnership between the community and all levels of government.

The agreement is the fifth Commonwealth-State agreement to be finalised under the Trust.

24 October 1997

Contact: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 0419 693 515 or 02 6277 7640
Rob Haynes (Mr Anderson) 0419 493 511 or 02 6277 7520
124/97

Commonwealth of Australia