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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

23 December 2002

First Natural Heritage Trust Agreement Signed


The Commonwealth today signed a bilateral agreement with Victoria as a key step in releasing an additional $1 billion in Natural Heritage Trust funding across Australia over the next five years.

The Natural Heritage Trust is the largest environmental program in Australia's history and will invest approximately $2.7 billion in protecting and repairing Australia's environment by 2007. The Commonwealth is continuing to negotiate similar agreements with other States.

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp said that, through the bilateral agreement, the Federal Government has committed more than $50 million from the Natural Heritage Trust for the environment of Victoria over the next three years.

"This funding is in addition to the $152 million Commonwealth commitment to Victoria through the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality to 2007. Under the Plan, Victoria will match that funding for water quality and salinity benefits," Dr Kemp said.

"Combined funding for environmental action in Victoria from both the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan is increasing. In 2002-03 the State receives $44.7 million (up from $39.9 million in 2001-02) and in 2003-04 this increases to $50.1 million.

"Under the Trust agreement, Commonwealth funding will be matched by cash or in-kind contributions from Victoria for many projects to enhance biodiversity, sustainable natural resource management and the capacity of Victorian communities to deliver these outcomes."

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, said the Natural Heritage Trust agreement would assist efforts to address the key environmental and natural resource management issues affecting the sustainability of rural industries and the Victorian communities that depend on them.

"The bilateral agreement puts in place commitments to better manage and protect Victoria's water, vegetation, wetlands, and coasts," Mr Truss said. "Through the bilateral agreement the Commonwealth is also allocating $850,000 to Victoria over the next financial year for State-wide projects involving training, research and data gathering.

"These State-wide projects provide information and skills for use across Victoria. They are designed to equip regional communities with the tools they need to develop and implement their natural resource management plans.

"This agreement is building on the success of the first six years of the Trust while taking it into a new phase focusing on regional delivery. This means that communities are given the resources to determine the direction of their repair and protection efforts by developing and implementing regional plans to manage their environment and natural resources.

"Regional delivery is already happening in Victoria supported by funding from the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. The Natural Heritage Trust is expanding this approach throughout the entire State," Mr Truss said.

To date, more than 160,000 Victorian volunteers have been involved in projects funded through the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust, achieving significant on-ground outcomes in Victoria, including the planting of more than 8 million seedlings and the erection of more than 20,000 kilometres of protective fencing.

Victoria's Natural Heritage Trust regions are: Goulbourn Broken, Corangamite, North Central, Port Phillip, North East, Mallee, Wimmera, Glenelg-Hopkins, East Gippsland & West Gippsland.

Media Contacts:
Dr Kemp's Office Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Mr Truss's office Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433


The Natural Heritage Trust in Victoria

The $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust was set up in 1997 to help restore and conserve Australia's environment and natural resources. Since then, thousands of community groups have received funding for environmental and natural resource management projects.

As the largest environmental rescue plan ever undertaken in Australia, the Federal Government recognises the importance of this on-ground work and the need to continue to support it.

To date, more than 160,000 Victorian volunteers have been involved in projects funded through the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust, achieving significant on-ground outcomes in Victoria, including the planting of more than 8 million seedlings and the erection of more than 20,000 kilometres of protective fencing.

Projects have ranged from creating nature walks, to re-establishing wetland habitats, creating wildlife corridors, or implementing water quality and erosion control measures.

For example, the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority has received $990,000 to implement Landcare Action Plans based on integrating catchment management issues across the farm to assist in developing a more viable farming enterprise, address soil erosion, and undertake salinity management and control.

Since 1996, Swan Hill Rural City Council has received $458,000 to implement a flood mitigation strategy, including the construction of suitable levee banks, and the NE Catchment Management Group has received $361,000 for an aggregate of Landcare groups for major gully control and revegetation works. The project will integrate with the existing regional projects, by providing accelerated works in high priority areas in addition to the current work programs.

For further information call 1800 065 823 or visit www.nht.gov.au

Media Contacts:
Dr Kemp's Office Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Mr Truss's office Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

Commonwealth of Australia