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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon. Warren Truss
&
Victorian Minister for Agriculture
Bob Cameron

Victorian Minister for Environment
John Thwaites

22 April 2003

Natural Resource Management Plan a Major Boost for Environment and Agriculture in Glenelg-Hopkins


A new regional catchment strategy developed by farmers and the local community to improve the natural resource base in Victoria's Glenelg-Hopkins region was jointly accredited and announced by the Federal and State governments today.

It is the first regional catchment strategy to be accredited under the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and National Action Plan for Salinity & Water Quality (NAP) which have devolved responsibility for the development of plans for regional community-based groups. The governments also announced the Glenelg-Hopkins Catchment Authority will receive $2.93 million in NAP funding to begin implementing the plan.

The Federal Ministers for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Agriculture, Warren Truss, and the Victorian Ministers for Environment, John Thwaites, and Agriculture, Bob Cameron, said the Glenelg-Hopkins Regional Catchment Strategy represents a significant milestone.

"The Glenelg-Hopkins region is considered one of the areas most at risk from rising water tables and dryland salinity," Dr Kemp said. "Out of two million hectares, about 28,000 are saline, and 144,000 have a water table depth of less than two metres.

"Meeting the accreditation criteria set by the Commonwealth, State and Territories will open the door for government funding to flow into the region to redress these important environmental issues."

Mr Thwaites said the region contains just under half of the State's wetlands, including a Ramsar site, and two of the largest estuaries in western Victoria, both of whose outflows affect marine biodiversity.

"The catchment strategy was thoroughly assessed by over 60 experts and will significantly improve the region's land and vegetation management, water quality, biodiversity, as well as the quality of life in local communities," he said.

"For example, some of the region's waterways are under threat from nutrients, pesticide contamination and variety of diversions. The necessary on-ground works to help turn these problems around will be recommended by the Glenelg-Hopkins Catchment Management Authority.

"Victoria has 10 natural resource management regions, six of which are also priority regions under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality."

Mr Truss said catchment strategies are the most effective way for State and Commonwealth Governments to deliver environmental benefits to regional communities.

"Regional catchment strategies are the backbone of natural resource management in Victoria and the basis of investment under the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust and $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality - the biggest environment rescue package in Australian history," he said.

"Both programs support plans developed by local communities to protect their natural resources, their agricultural industries and their social and economic future.

"Groundwater in the Glenelg-Hopkins region is used for irrigation and also by industry and local communities. This strategy includes a range of activities to stem the risk of pollution and improve water quality.

"It also includes strategies to deal with pest plants and animals such as rabbits. Rabbits are major contributors to soil erosion and attract foxes which pose an enormous threat to stock and native wildlife."

Mr Cameron said a key priority of the strategy would be regional and agricultural sustainability.

"In addition to the important environmental issues, the strategy will focus on increasing awareness and use of sustainable practices by farmers, land managers and local industry," he said.

"A number of actions such as revegetation and nutrient management will be implemented through a regional environmental management system. This will help ensure farmers and landholders learn more about ways they can contribute to achieving the desired outcomes.

"Nutrient management, particularly in the dairy industry, is another important issue in the regional plan, as is promoting sustainable farming practices."

Regional catchment strategies in other regions of Victoria are due to be completed over the next few months.

All Victorian regions are also developing regional investment plans to implement the priorities and achieve the targets set out in the regional plans.

More information about the Natural Heritage Trust is available at: www.nht.gov.au. Information about the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is available at www.napswq.gov.au.

Media Contacts:
Minister Kemp: Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 221 433
Minister Truss: Annette Healy (02) 6277 7520 or 0408 627 227
Minister Thwaites: Ilsa Colson (03) 9651 0957 or 0418 368 639
Minister Cameron Kim Carter (03) 9651 5799 or 0419 294094
Glenelg Hopkins CMA Laurie Norman (03) 5343 2555

Commonwealth of Australia