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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss MP
ACT Chief Minister and Minister for the Environment
Jon Stanhope

27 March 2003

$1.75 Million Natural Heritage Trust Funding for ACT Includes Funds for Bushfire Recovery

The Howard Government will invest $1.75 million of Natural Heritage Trust funding in extensive environmental work throughout the ACT over the next three years, after signing a bilateral agreement with the Territory today.

The funding commitment includes $400,000 in Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funds for fire recovery activities that address the impact of the January bushfires on natural resources.

The bilateral agreement, which requires the ACT to match the Commonwealth's funding contribution, was signed by Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and ACT Chief Minister and Environment Minister, Jon Stanhope, today at Parliament House.

"Funding under the bilateral agreement will be used to manage and improve biodiversity, as well as producing sustainable natural resource management and the ability of ACT communities to deliver these outcomes," Mr Truss said.

"The ACT suffered enormous losses in the January bushfires. The fire recovery funding will be used to assess, plan and address natural resource management problems caused by the bushfires, such as the recovery of threatened species and their habitats, weed and feral animal control, future fire management and on-ground water quality works."

Mr Stanhope said the ACT Government takes environment and natural resource management very seriously.

"The Territory intends to commit significant cash and in-kind contributions to more than match the Commonwealth's contribution," he said.

"This assistance through the Natural Heritage Trust will complement significant Territory investment already underway, particularly in the area of nature conservation."

Mr Stanhope said the recent bushfires have brought into sharp focus many natural resource and land management issues.

"Over 60% of the Territory was burnt including the majority of Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Valuable rural lands, including significant landcare plantings, were also destroyed or damaged and many ecologically significant communities were badly affected. The ACT Government wants to see that this damage is quickly assessed," he said.

"I am very pleased the Commonwealth has recognised the special needs imposed on the Territory as a result of the fires. This bilateral funding agreement will make a significant difference to the recovery of our natural heritage estate and to the sustainable management of our natural resources."

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said the NHT Bilateral Agreement commits both the Federal and ACT governments to work together to better manage and protect the ACT's water, vegetation, wetlands, and alpine areas.

"It is likely that some of the first projects funded under the Agreement will provide useful information and help develop skills in natural resource management. This is particularly important in light of the horrific bushfires that destroyed much of our valuable natural resources earlier this year," Dr Kemp said.

"Other early projects could include further incentives for biodiversity conservation, protection and rehabilitation measures, and coordinator support services.

"Today's announcement builds on the success of the first six years of the Natural Heritage Trust. As part of the bilateral agreements, funding is delivered on a regional basis. This means the community only needs to develop a single regional plan in which it can apply for funding from a number of natural resource management programs available under the Natural Heritage Trust.

"It also means the community is given proper resources to address critical environmental issues based on sound economics and science, taking into account the social, economic and environmental impacts of the issues on the community."

Media Contacts:
Tim Langmead (Mr Truss's office) - (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433
Penny Farnsworth (Mr Stanhope's office) - (02) 6205 0434
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) - (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia