The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Preparing for rollout of Reef Trust projects

Media release
11 July 2014

Projects protecting the Great Barrier Reef will soon rollout as part of the Government's $40 million investment to establish the Reef Trust.

The Reef Trust will fund projects to improve coastal habitat, water quality and enhancing species protection along the wondrous Great Barrier Reef - the jewel in Australia's environmental crown.

Establishing the Reef Trust was a key Coalition election commitment and funding of $40 million was delivered in the recent federal budget.

For the first Reef Trust project, $5 million will be used to provide financial incentives to sugar cane farmers in the Wet Tropics to improve nutrient use efficiency and farm sustainability.

Fertiliser runoff from farms is one factor affecting the health and resilience of the reef and while the recently released Reef Water Quality Report Card shows farmers are making excellent progress in improving their management practices, there is more that can be done.

Improving the efficiency of fertiliser used in farming and reducing the amount lost in runoff is a key way that we can help protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government has released a Request for Tender for a service provider to encourage and support participation of sugar cane farmers in the Wet Tropics.

Cane farmers who register an expression of interest will be able to apply for funding to carry out practices that improve their use of fertiliser to grow more cane and reduce runoff from their farms.

Cane farmers who are successful in the competitive tender will receive funding over four years.

Participation in the project is voluntary and cane farmers will determine their individual fertiliser use efficiency targets and the most cost-effective means of achieving those targets on their farms.

In addition to achieving improved sustainability outcomes, the Reef Trust tender will support farmers to trial and implement innovative ways of improving their farm profitability while maintaining farm yields.

The project is being developed in partnership with the CSIRO and with significant input and support from a broad range of industry and scientific stakeholders.

Other Reef Trust projects already announced are the $5 million Dugong and Turtle Plan, the $2 million crown-of-thorns-starfish control programme and $3 million in funding to improve grazing management practices in the Burdekin and Fitzroy regions to reduce soil erosion.

The closing date for applications to be the service provider for the Reef Trust tender project is
5 August 2014.  The Request for Tender is available at www.tenders.gov.au

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