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


3 March 2000

NATIONAL CONSENSUS ON NATIVE VEGETATION


A national consensus on how to manage and protect Australia's remaining native vegetation was today unveiled at the International Landcare 2000 Conference in Melbourne.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone MP, today officially launched the National Framework for the Monitoring and Evaluation of Australia's Native Vegetation on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC).

"The National Vegetation Framework is a groundbreaking document that voluntarily commits every State and Territory to ensuring they take steps to halt the loss of native vegetation," Sharman Stone said.

All Australian Governments have committed themselves, through the Bushcare Program of the Natural Heritage Trust, to achieve the national goal of reversing the long-term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover by June 2001.

"This is ambitious, but it is vitally important the landholders, local councils, urban and community groups work with their state governments to ensure the Framework's objectives are realised," Sharman Stone said.

The Framework details a range of 'best practice' measures, including:

As much as 70% of Australia's native vegetation has been cleared or in some way disturbed in the past 200 years, most in the past 50 years.

Broadscale land clearing contributes to a range of environmental problems including, dry-land salinity, weed invasion, soil erosion, degradation of agricultural land, greenhouse gas emissions and loss of biodiversity. In some regions, the damage to the environment may be irreversible.

For example, 20 different mammal, 9 bird and 97 plant species are now extinct and, approximately 2.5 million hectares of productive land is salt affected. These extinctions and the spread of dry-salinity are directly attributable to loss of habitat or inappropriate tree clearing.

"Each state is required to prepare and implement vegetation protection strategies that include legislation, incentives and information dissemination. Many states now have regional vegetation plans which guide local government and provide property owners in vegetation protection," Sharman Stone said.

"Sharing information and working within a nationally agreed framework is the only hope we have for a different future. Many places like the Barmah Forest staddle state borders. Without cooperation, the world's biggest Red Gum Forest would be in jeopardy," Sharman Stone said.

Dr Stone said the Commonwealth would support the implementation of the Framework through the strategic allocation of National Heritage Trust funding.

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Simon Frost, 0419 495 468

Commonwealth of Australia