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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


27 January 2000

BARMAH FOREST GETS GREEN TEAM MAKEOVER


Environmental work in the Barmah Forest will receive a boost over the next six-months, with 10 volunteers from the Federal Government's Green Corp project working on-site to rehabilitate, repair and monitor the internationally recognised wetlands.

The Federal Member for Murray, Sharman Stone, said the Green Corps team will consist of 10 volunteers aged between 17 and 20 who will have responded to an advertisement asking for participants to work in the Barmah Forest project. The trainees will also undertake TAFE training and complete their six months work receiving a certificate from TAFE.

Shaman Stone announced the project as part of national celebrations for World Wetlands Day (Feb 2).

"Over the next six months the team will learn a range of natural resource management skills and undertake practical activities including weeding, fence repairs, establish monitoring plots and surveying Kangaroo and Koala numbers," Sharman Stone said.

"Their primary goal of this repair work is to protect 10 indigenous cultural sites of significance in the Forest and, to increase the amount of information available to the long-term managers, Parks Victoria."

World Wetlands Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention (Iran, 1971), an environmental agreement signed by 120 countries to protect wetlands of international significance. The Barmah Forest was first proclaimed as a Ramsar site in 1982.

"Barmah, together with the neighbouring Millewa Forest is the largest River Red Gum forest in Australia. Because of its thriving biodiversity it is a popular tourist destination, with more than 100,000 visitors per year trekking and camping in the Forest," Sharman Stone said.

The Barmah Forest is recognised as an important breeding ground for the Sacred Ibis. During flood years Cormorants, Egrets and Spoonbills also flock to Barmah to breed.

Barmah Forest covers and area of 28,515 hectares and is home to more than 550 plant species and 31 species of wildlife, including the endangered Superb Parrot and Regent Honeyeater.

"This innovative Green Corps project will help increase our understanding of the ecological and cultural value of Barmah Forest. It will be a great learning experience for 10 young volunteers and will provide a significant boost to the health of this remarkable international wetland," Sharman Stone said.

Green Corps is open to any young person aged between 17 and 20 years. Depending on their age and educational qualifications, participants receive a training wage of between $170 and $270 per week.

In 1999 the Federal Government invested an additional $88.8 million in the Green Corps program. Over the next four years, 6,800 new places will be offered to young Australian's with an interest in the environment.

For further information about Green Corps please contact the Australian Trust for Conservation volunteers on freecall 1800 633 844 or on-line at www.atcv.com.au.

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

Commonwealth of Australia