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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

18 June 1999


Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, said today that land management agreements could be an effective way of protecting threatened native vegetation and wildlife on private land, while at the same time enabling farmers to pursue ecologically sustainable agricultural production.

Speaking at Greening Australia's forum on Native Conservation on Private Land at Queanbeyan, Mrs Stone said that voluntary management agreements, backed by government funding and support, could also help to reduce Australia's land clearing rate.

"In addition to the traditional regulatory approach to land management, governments at all levels should be considering management agreements with individual landholders that compliment regional catchment and biodiversity planning."

"Management agreements on private land do not involve 'locking-up' a tract of land, nor are they a 'one-size-fits all' arrangement. They have the potential to protect significant areas of threatened native vegetation, while also allowing farmers to maintain sustainable agricultural and livestock production that compliments the local ecology."

"Effective land management is not a 'trade-off' between the economy and the environment, but sustainable management based around the 'wise-use' of natural resources. Management agreements recognise and implement these principles on a local level," Sharman Stone said.

Nationally, Australia's land clearing rate is 309,000 hectares per annum, the equivalent of clearing 500 Melbourne Cricket Grounds every day. Around 100,000 hectares of trees are replanted each year.

The CSIRO estimates that approximately 2.5 million of productive land has been lost to dry land salinity caused by inappropriate levels of land clearing. Around half of Australia's native bird and mammal species are now extinct.

Mrs Stone said the Federal Government was leading the push to increase native tree planting and reduce land clearing through the $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the largest environmental rescue package ever undertaken by an Australian Government.

"With funding and support through the Bushcare program, communities in the bush and city are replanting and protecting vast tracts of native bushland, protecting our unique flora and fauna for future generations."

"Last year the Federal Government also negotiated a landmark agreement with all states and territories that aims to reverse the effects of land clearing by June 2001," Mrs Stone said.

The National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation has established a series of 'best practice' standards and benchmarks that aim to reverse the long-term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover.

"The Framework will enable the Commonwealth and States to share vital information about mapping, data collection, protection of threatened species, incentives and effective regulation. It is a marvellous opportunity to learn from the experiences and pitfalls of other states, because of the vastly different stages of development reached in each jurisdiction."

Mrs Stone praised Greening Australia's commitment to sustainable native vegetation management saying they were a major partner in delivering 'on-the-ground' results under the Natural Heritage Trust.

"This conference is what sustainable land management is all about: bringing together landholders with great ideas, scientists, conservation and Landcare groups, government agencies and the community to share information and ideas on how we can best manage our fragile natural resources," Mrs Stone said.

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

Commonwealth of Australia