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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


19 January 2000

COUNCILS DIG DEEP TO MEET BUSHCARE CHALLENGE


Local councils around Australia have seized the Bushcare challenge, more than doubling the amount of Natural Heritage Trust funds being spent on replanting and rehabilitating native bushland in 1999-2000.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, said more and more local councils were combining practical revegetation activities with innovative incentive schemes such as rate rebates and fencing grants, Land for Wildlife projects and community based devolved grants schemes.

"In addition to council funds, this year over $7 million in federal grants will be spent by councils around the country, up from $3 million in the previous year. This is a fantastic effort by councils and their communities, and will have a significant impact on the protection and restoration of Australia's native bush," Sharman Stone said.

Since Bushcare began approximately $14 million in Natural Heritage Trust Funding has been distributed to 250 local councils for a range of native vegetation management projects on public and private land.

"Local councils stand at the coalface of environmental management. Through planning, zoning and development applications, roadside and reserve maintenance and other environmental works, councils are in a unique position to manage, monitor and restore Australia's fragile native vegetation," Sharman Stone said.

"The Federal Government is keen to continue to support council efforts to replant and restore native bush, with applications now being called for 2000-2001 Natural Heritage Trust funding."

"Whether in big or small or from the city or the bush, all councils are welcome to apply for funding."

The National Local Government Bushcare Facilitator Environs Australia can be contacted on (03) 9654 1322. Further advice is also available by contacting Environmental Resource Officers, located in state based municipal associations.

Bushcare, the largest program of the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust, aims to reverse the long-term decline of Australia's native vegetation.

Applications for funding are available from the Natural Heritage Trust Website at www.nht.gov.au or by calling the freecall hotline 1800 065 823. Applications close 25 February 2000.

Examples of local government Bushcare projects are attached.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia