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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

6 December 1999

Funds to Protect Victorian Grassland Now Available


Applications are now being called to help protect and restore Victoria's endangered grasslands, with the Federal Government investing $1.5 million from the Natural Heritage Trust in grassland management over the next three years.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone MP, today encouraged local farmers, councils, schools, Landcare groups, regional and state authorities to apply for funding before the closing date of 16 December 1999.

"In some cases farmers, councils or other regional authorities may not realise the importance of the native grasses in the back paddock or along the roadside. But native grasses are vitally important to the health of the Victorian landscape and our native animals, birds reptiles and insects," Sharman Stone said.

"In some cases an old school site or cemetery may remain as a haven for plant species that have disappeared under the plough or bitumen."

95% of Victoria's grasslands have been cleared or modified in the past 200 years, with many remaining ecosystems under threat.

Victorian priority regions include the Riverina, Midlands and Wimmera catchment and other ecological communities listed under the state's Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

"Already through the Natural Heritage Trust some great work is being done by local Landcare groups around Echuca to rehabilitate and protect native flowering peas and grasses across the shire. This additional funding will help target other ecologically significant grasslands across the state, as well as raising awareness about the value of native grasses," Sharman Stone said.

Grants are available for a range of activities including:

  • development of management and recovery plans,
    • flora and fauna surveys and monitoring,
      • fencing,
        • weed and feral animal control,
          • threat abatement,
            • establishing management agreements or covenants.

"Management plans might include practical farming techniques such as developing sustainable grazing regimes and fire control techniques. It does not mean 'locking- up' land never to be used again," Sharman Stone said.

The program is being managed on the Commonwealth's behalf by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

In round one, $300,000 dollars is available for grants, with the majority expected to be less than $5,000 per project. A small number of projects up to $50,000 will also be considered.

For further information on how to apply contact the WWF on freecall 1800 251 573 or visit their website at www.wwf.org.au.

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

Commonwealth of Australia