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

25 October 1999

NHT FUNDS COMBAT RIVERLAND SALINITY


Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, will visit the South Australian Riverland region on Monday following an invitation from local member Neil Andrew MP, Federal Member for Wakefield, to become better informed about environmental issues in the area and to see first hand how local Riverland farmers are meeting the challenges of sustainable development.

The regional visit includes on-site discussions with local stonefruit growers at Loxton, the internationally significant Bookmark Biosphere Trust Reserve and a community meeting in Renmark.

Besides being the Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage, Sharman Stone is the Federal Member for Murray, a region with many agribusiness issues in common with the Wakefield Electorate.

"I am delighted to visit this important horticultural region, to meet with local fruit growers and to see first hand some of the innovative on-farm practices that are helping to ensure the future prosperity and ecological sustainability of this region," Sharman Stone said.

"The Riverland region of the Federal Electorate of Wakefield is an important 'foodbowl' for South Australia and the nation. Listening to the concerns and needs of local farmers and rural communities is vital if our government is to help locals plan effectively for the region's future."

Dr Stone said the region's diverse agricultural and environmental would benefit substantially from the additional Natural Heritage Trust funds allocated to the area over the next year.

"With Neil Andrews help, Wakefield has secured over $2.5 million dollars in federal funding for 46 projects. This is a fantastic result for the region, with funds targeting local environmental hotspots, helping to reduce dryland salinity, improve on-farm irrigation practices and replant native vegetation," Sharman Stone said.

Natural Heritage Trust funding in the Riverland region of South Australia is helping to reduce dry-salinity, improve the River Murray's water quality and assist irrigators to become more efficient with their on-farm water use.

Major projects include a $1 million investment in the Qualco Sunlands Drainage Management Scheme an integrated drainage and salinity mitigation scheme.

The jointly managed Bookmark Biosphere Trust Reserve, an internationally significant conservation reserve, was also a major beneficiary of Trust funding this year, receiving over $60,000 for 3 new projects.

This funding comes in addition to $270,000 from the Natural Heritage Trust to help purchase the Taylorville Station and ongoing funding of $420,000 per year for the next four years to manage the Biosphere Reserve.

"This is a great environmental asset for South Australia. To have such a region considered to be representative of the world's biodiversity is a great honour and a legacy of the commitment of the community, landholders and conservation groups in the area," Sharman Stone said.

The 600,000-hectare reserve contains the last intact old growth Mallee in Eastern Australia, national and internationally protected RAMSAR wetlands, rare migratory birds, game and forest reserves, and is managed collaboratively by 20 partner organisations.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia