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

1 April 1999

MURRUMBIDGEE NATIVE SEEDBANKS BLOSSOM


Murrumbidgee regional seedbanks at Wagga Wagga and Griffith today received a $66,000 cash injection from the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust to help boost efforts to collect local seed to replant and protect native vegetation.

Mrs Hull and Mrs Stone today announced the grant for stage two of the Murrumbidgee Regional Seedbank Project saying it would deliver much needed support to community's efforts to collect and stockpile the region's unique native seed.

"This project is vitally important to the Murrumbidgee region. I am very pleased to announce to local residents that the funds are 'in-the-bank' to enable our two local seedbanks to continue and to build on last year's good work," Mrs Hull said.

"It has been great to see the way the community has supported the seedbank initiative over the past year. There has been outstanding community support through a high number of volunteer seed collectors, local Work for the Dole Programs and Council participation," Mrs Hull said.

Mrs Stone said that collecting local native seed was a vitally important part of efforts to replant native vegetation as it had already adapted to local climatic, hydrological and soil conditions, giving it the best chance of survival once planted.

"Collecting native seed requires a great deal of time, effort and expertise. There is often only a very short window of opportunity to collect seed, depending on seasonal and climatic conditions, and access to harvesting equipment in remote locations is often very difficult," Mrs Stone said.

The Murrumbidgee Regional Seedbanks at Wagga Wagga and Griffith were established on behalf of the local Catchment Management Authority and are coordinated by Greening Australia. Two full-time staff, seedbank facilities and equipment were set-up as part of the first stage of the project and are now fully operational.

Stage two of the project also includes a public education component on the importance of seed collection to the environment.

Native seed in the area had been at dangerously low levels for some time due to drought. The Murrumbidgee region is also one of the most over cleared catchments in Australia. Planting native species helps to bind the soil, prevent erosion and salinity, reduce rising regional water tables caused by land clearing and provide essential habitat and food for native wildlife.

Demand for locally harvested and collected seed has steadily increased, with local Landcare and Bushcare groups, schools, farmers and nurseries needing additional seed to deliver 'on-ground' revegetation projects funded through the Natural Heritage Trust.

"Of the 100 projects mid and lower Murrumbidgee regions this year, 65 involve revegetation work. Being able to plant native seeds, that have been collected locally, is vital to their success," Mrs Hull said.

Mrs Stone said the Murrumbidgee seedbanks had been funded through the Bushcare program, part of the Federal Government's $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

Bushcare aims to reverse the long-term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation, conserve Australia's unique plant and animal species and promote ecologically sustainable natural resource management.

For further information please contact:
Jamin Forbes, Kay Hull's Office, 02 6921 4600
Nicole Johnston, Sharman Stone's Office, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia