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

15 June 1999


$1.2 million in funding from the Natural Heritage Trust is being ploughed into Bushcare projects in Far North Queensland to revegetate and conserve native bushland, waterways and beaches, reduce pollution and help endangered flora and fauna flourish in the wild.

The Wet Tropics Vegetation Management Program comprises 34 projects across 10 shires, with 450 participants including Green Corps teams, community volunteers, Work for the Dole, scientists, schools, indigenous groups, private enterprise and three tiers of government all contributing to on-the-ground works.

In Cairns to visit project sites and meet with local volunteers, Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, praised the efforts of the Wet Tropics Vegetation Management Program in getting the project up and running.

"This is a massive conservation project that will deliver long-term results to native bushland and wildlife throughout FNQ. It is fantastic to see so many different groups working as one to revegetate and protect native bushland, rainforests and waterways that, in turn, will help protect endangered wildlife like the Southern Cassowary."

Far North Queensland is widely regarded as an area with exceptional conservation values. The region is home to one quarter of Australia's frogs and reptiles, half of all indigenous bird life, a third of the country's mammals and almost two-thirds of all known butterflies.

"The strategic, integrated catchment-based approach taken by the Wet Tropics Program, covers streams, rivers, rainforest, bushland, wetlands, beaches, swamps, parkland, botanical gardens and private lands throughout the far north, maximising sustainable conservation outcomes for the community and the environment," Sharman Stone said.

As part of the project volunteers will:

When completed, around 500,000 native seedlings will have been planted over a 100 hectare area.

"Collecting locally harvested native seed is vitally important to preserve the region's unique flora. Because it has already adapted to local climatic, hydrological and soil conditions it has the best chance of survival once planted. It also provides essential food for native wildlife and helps to reduce erosion," Mrs Stone said.

The project commenced in 1997-98, and to date has received over $2 million in Federal Government funding through the Natural Heritage Trust. A further $1.2 million has been sought as part of the 1999-2000 funding round.

Over the life of the project, works are expected to total around $13 million.

The $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust is the largest environmental rescue package ever undertaken by an Australian Government. For further information or to apply for funding please contact the Natural Heritage Trust freecall hotline on 1800 065 823.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415
or Dr Sue Vize, CEO NQ Afforestation Association, 07 4041 2598

Commonwealth of Australia