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

3 May 2000

'Greenprint' for Australian Environmental Health

Remember the old 70s song 'You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone'? Well, the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) today released a 'greenprint' for measuring and monitoring the state of health Australia's natural resources.

Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, said in launching the ANZECC Core Environmental Indicators for Reporting on the State of the Environment, that regular 'stocktakes' of the Australian landscape were essential if early warning signals were to be heard across the landscape.

"The ANZECC report will help us better understand what is in danger across the Australian continent. This could include our clean air, native animals and plants, fish or freshwater," Sharman Stone said.

"A national snapshot of the health of Australia will help governments and the community better understand environmental priorities and to plan effectively and sustainably for the future."

The core measures of Australia's environmental health identified in the Report include the atmosphere, biodiversity, land, inland waters, estuaries and the sea and human settlement.

"On a landscape level this will help us track data including greenhouse gas emissions, the rate of native vegetation clearing, changes in land and water use, soil salinity and acidity levels, seafood catch, algal blooms, residential density and the volume of green waste among many others," Sharman Stone said.

"Much like our own annual visit to the dentist or doctor, state of the environment reporting is an early warning system that we can't afford to ignore."

Dr Stone said the Commonwealth was leading the national push for timely, accurate and comprehensive state of the environment reporting.

"Under the new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, state of the environment reporting is now mandatory at the national level every five years. The next report, due in 2001, will pioneer the use of environmental indicators on a continent-wide scale."

"The Federal Government is also providing funding through the Australian Greenhouse Office and Natural Heritage Trust to help local government and the private sector make environmental 'stocktaking' a key feature in how they manage Australia's backyards and boardrooms."

In addition, the Commonwealth has invested $30 million from the Natural Heritage Trust in the National Land and Water Audit. The Audit, being conducted by scientists at the CSIRO, will provide a snapshot of the health of Australia's land and water resources as they have been used for productive or conservation purposes, particularly in rural and regional areas.

Dr Stone launched the ANZECC Report at the State of the Environment Conference 2000 - Working Towards Sustainable Communities being held in Coffs Harbour from May 3-5.

Media Inquiries:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415
3 May 2000

Commonwealth of Australia