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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss
&
Federal Minister for Fisheries,Forestry and Conservation
Senator Ian Macdonald

18 December 2002

Australian Government Envirofund Targets Drought Recovery


The Commonwealth Government is inviting community groups and individuals to apply for funding for drought-related environmental works under a special $10 million Drought Recovery Round of the Australian Government Envirofund.

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mr Warren Truss, and the Federal Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald, said the Envirofund is the community component of the Commonwealth's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust, which helps thousands of Australians undertake on-ground works such as tree planting, fencing, weeding and seed collecting.

The Ministers encouraged groups and individuals to apply for funding to undertake much needed environmental works in these tough times.

The Drought Recovery Round of the Envirofund is one of a series of new measures acknowledging the effect the drought is having on industry, the environment and communities around Australia.

Mr Truss said funding under the special Drought Recovery Round targets works to protect our land and water and vegetation from drought-induced environmental damage or projects which are best undertaken when water levels are low. Priority will be given to applications from areas declared as Exceptional Circumstances (EC) areas, or under consideration for EC.

"This special round of the Envirofund is designed to help individuals and community groups get on with practical activities to help protect the natural environment from degradation caused by the widespread and severe drought - recognising that communities need a helping hand to respond," Mr Truss said.

Dr Kemp said projects funded may include waterway protection, erosion control, or fencing to protect habitat of endangered animals and vegetation. Funding may also be available to relocate watering points to prevent stock damage to fragile river frontage, and to control feral animals to reduce grazing pressure or protect native plant and animal life.

"This special Drought Recovery Round is about providing assistance when and where it is most needed," Dr Kemp said. "It will help protect our biodiversity resources on which farming activity is heavily reliant."

To maximise the fund's effectiveness, applications received before the end of January will receive priority processing so that community groups who are ready to undertake action quickly can start once the project is approved.

"Envirofund recognises that every idea and every effort - no matter what size - can make a difference. Small local projects help ensure that our unique biodiversity is protected even under severe drought conditions, and our rich resources are sustained for the next generation," Dr Kemp said.

Senator Macdonald said the Drought Recovery Round of the Australian Government Envirofund continued the work of the Natural Heritage Trust - the largest environmental rescue effort ever delivered by any Australian Government.

"To date, almost 400,000 Australian volunteers have been involved in over 12,000 projects funded through the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust," Senator Macdonald said.

"These projects have achieved significant on-ground outcomes, including the planting of more than 26 million seedlings, the protection of 7,730 square kilometres of native vegetation and the erection of 36,000 kilometres of protective fencing along our waterways.

"We strongly encourage community groups around the country to apply for funding from the Australian Government Envirofund Drought Recovery Round to help make a real difference in their local areas," Senator Macdonald said.

Community groups and individuals interested in applying for funding of up to $30,000 under the Australian Government Envirofund Drought Recovery Round should obtain a copy of the Guide to Applications by calling toll-free on 1800 065 823, or by looking on the Internet at www.nht.gov.au.

Applications must be received by 14 February 2003. Applications received by 30 January 2003 will get priority processing and early announcement. It is expected that the remainder of the projects to receive funding under this round will be announced late March 2003.

Media Contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's Office) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Tim Langmead (Minister Truss' office) 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433
Kelly Stevens (Senator Macdonald's office) 02 6277 7270 or 0405 191 723

Commonwealth of Australia