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$2.1m for another 10 salinity and water quality projects in Victoria.



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AFFA03/056WTJ - 20 March 2003

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp Victorian Minister for Environment, John Thwaites

$2.1M for another 10 salinity and water quality projects in Victoria

$2.1 million is being made available for three regional and seven state-wide projects in Victoria under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

The decision was announced today by the Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp; Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss; and the Victorian Minister for Environment, John Thwaites.

The funding is in addition to $49.8 million provided in the last two years for 58 projects in Victoria from the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAPSWQ).

The Commonwealth and Victorian Government are jointly spending more than $304 million over seven years on the State's four priority regions. These regions are covered by six catchment management authorities. These are:

● Glenelg-Corangamite (Glenelg-Hopkins CMA and Corangamite CMA);

● Avoca-Loddon-Campaspe (North Central CMA);

● Goulburn-Broken (Goulburn Broken CMA); and

● Lower Murray (Mallee CMA and Wimmera CMA).

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Kemp, said Victoria's regional catchment strategies in catchment regions funded by the NAPSWQ are due to be completed over the next few months and would form the backbone of National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality activities in the State.

"The additional funding will ensure regional communities can continue work on tackling the crucial issues of salinity and water quality in priority areas," Dr Kemp said.

"A key feature of Victorian projects funded under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality will be their commitment to involving the community.

"For example, one of the projects encourages a local community to play an active role in developing plans to protect the lower Avoca wetlands and another is designed to foster a strong conservation ethic in the landholders, local government and community members of the Corangamite region."

Victorian Environment Minister, John Thwaites, said the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is about long-term planning to ensure future generations have access to good quality water and productive agricultural land.

"For instance, work in the Glenelg Hopkins catchment project will help water flow more freely into Spring Creek, Winslow Gorge on the Merri River and other parts of the Glenelg River," Mr Thwaites said.

"Tree planting, weeding and fencing at priority locations as part of this project will protect a range of habitats, including the final section of remnant vegetation on the Merri River. The project will also see the fragile Surry River entirely fenced off from grazing stock."

Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, said the project evaluating private forestry as an

alternative to traditional stock farming will help provide valuable information for long-term regional planning.

"Many Victorian farmers are selling or leasing land to forestry companies as an alternative income source and this project will help evaluate environmental impacts of this land-use shift," Mr Truss said.

For further details of the projects and contact details on the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, visit the website: www.napswq.gov.au.

Today's announced Victorian projects:

SUMMARY OF PROJECTS

Lower Avoca Wetland Management Study Avoca-Loddon-Campaspe NAP Region (North Central CMA) Project Cost $166,700 Location: Avoca River wetlands, Contact Officer: Rohan Hogan, North Central CMA, 03 54487124

Brief description: The lower Avoca wetlands, listed under the Ramsar Convention, the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia and/or the Register of the National Estate, are threatened by increasing salinity, degrading water quality, excess ponding of water and reduced watering. This priority action will develop a management plan for the Lower Avoca wetlands to identify management objectives and actions. The approach will determine the causes and impacts of increasing salinity and poor water quality on the wetlands, taking into consideration the historical condition of the system and current operating regime and infrastructure constraints.

Stream stabilisation works to enhance environmental flows management and stressed rivers Glenelg-Corangamite Priority Region Project Cost $520,010 Location: Glenelg River and catchment waterways (Spring Creek, Winslow Gorge, Merri Creek) Contact Officer: Janette Lowe, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, 03 55712526

Brief description: The implementation of major on-ground works including revegetation and in-stream habitat enhancement and protection in priority locations on the waterways of the Glenelg-Hopkins catchment, including Spring Creek, Winslow Gorge on the Merri Creek and those parts of the Glenelg River listed as Heritage River. The outcome of this investment will be: improved water quality and environmental flows for the Glenelg River; significant impact on the carp colonising the system; reduction in the rising saline groundwater; amelioration of the sand 'slugs' developing in pools in the river; and ongoing community and landholder support.

Engaging the Rural Community in Sustainable NRM Glenelg-Hopkins -Corangamite NAP Region, Project Cost $221,500 Location: Across the State, Contact Officer: Peter Codd, Corangamite CMA, 03 52329100

Brief description : Conservation of remnant native vegetation on private land through making information accessible to landholders and local governments, providing targeted extension services and developing incentive schemes in conjunction with local government. The conservation of remnant native vegetation and the development of a land stewardship ethic will contribute significantly to sustainable production and conservation of biodiversity in the Corangamite region though salinity mitigation and improvements in water quality. The project is also an investment in social capital for effective natural resource management.

Land Reform Rural Land Stewardship Victorian Catchment Management Council, Project cost $500,000 Location: Across the State, Contact Officer: David Cummings 03 9412 5028

Brief description: The biophysical, social and economic components of land stewardship will be investigated and determine the true cost to the landholder of changes in the landscape. The aim is to develop an effective land stewardship will be widely adopted, cost effective and sustainable. An initial pilot project will be trialled in the Wimmera CMA NAP Priority Region. In the long term, an effective land stewardship approach will achieve large-scale landscape change aligning land use and land capability and result in significant social, economic and environmental benefits, as well as changed community attitudes and behaviour to land management.

Water resource planning in respect to private forestry Dept of Sustainability and Environment, Contact: Rae Moran 03 9412 4055 Location: Across the State, Project Cost $155,750

Brief description: This project will evaluate the impact of current and future private forestry in the National Action Plan regions and provide this information for use in the development of the Regional Catchment Strategies. It will also provide information to assist policy makers to determine the appropriate policy framework to manage the potential benefits or dis-benefits of private forestry.

AUSRIVAS Implementation Tools Environment Protection Authority, Project Cost $233,593 Location: Across the State, Contact: Doug Newton 03 9695 2532

Brief description : Identification and establishment of river health targets rely heavily on the AUSRIVAS system, most critically the AUSRIVAS models initially developed under the National River Health Program. Application of the models within Victoria have identified the need to revise and redevelop a number of models to accommodate regional differences. The proposal will refine existing training modules and resources to target Catchment Management Authorities and other potential users.

Environmental Impact of intensive groundwater development Dept of Sustainability and Environment, Project Cost $100,000 Location: Across the State, Contact: Gordon Walker 03 9412 4903

Brief description: The outcomes of this particular investment will be identification and investigation of the five highest priority areas in the NAP regions where intensive groundwater extraction is likely to impact on streams, lakes, wetlands and other groundwater dependant ecosystems and the quantification in these priority areas of the reduction in groundwater discharge as a result of intensive pumping. The information from this project will better inform the allocation planning process through the updating of Groundwater Management Plans and Streamflow Management Plans. The outcomes of this project will also assist Catchment Management Authorities to better consider environmental impacts together with the social and economic impacts of groundwater extraction in NAP regions.

Sourcing Seed Ballarat Region Seed Bank, Project Cost $94,600 Location: Organised from Ballarat but will apply across the State, Contact: Christine Eales 03 5345 2200

Brief description: It is likely that there will be extensive revegetation activities across Victoria in response to the National Action Plan, to reduce salinity and improve water quality. This project seeks to ensure that there is an adequate supply of indigenous seeds for these revegetation activities. The outcome for this investment will be the calculation of indigenous seed supply requirements for NAP projects across Victoria, quality assurance guidelines for seed collection and storage, a service delivery plan for supplying seed to NAP projects including a list of people with skills to collect and handle seed, identification of training needs and identification of potential collection sites.

Monitoring Land Use and Condition Change using remotely sensed data CSIRO, Project Cost $100,000 Location: Edenhope and Tarrangurk region, Contact: Peter Caccetta 08 93336188

Brief description: The project aims to develop a methodology to provide accurate and reliable maps

of the extent of soil salinity and deep-rooted perennial vegetation. This will assist in identifying the extent and cost of salinity and the options for controlling salinity and protecting the environment. The methodology will allow cost-effective and accurate reassessments to be made in the future. The data set will improve understanding, over time, of salinity and its effect on the environment and provide input into environmental models at the local and regional scales. The outcome of this investment is a prototype for monitoring salinity and vegetation that allows for accurate assessment of land and other natural assets for planning purposes using existing Landsat satellite imagery, digital elevation models and other data.

Conference on catchment management and planning and land use change Victorian Catchment Management Council (VCMC), Project Cost $25,000 (project completed) Location: Bendigo, Contact: David Cummings 03 9412 5028

Brief description: The Victorian Catchment Management Council (VCMC) will sponsor a conference focussing on major issues and activities of catchment planning and management. In particular, the conference will address catchment and regional planning, including opportunities and challenges; trade offs and priority setting, including targets and outcomes; issue of landscape change; ecosystem services and land stewardship and other innovative means of harnessing private sector investment

Lower Goulburn Floodplain independent review Department of Sustainability and Environment, Project Cost $100,000 Location: Lower Goulburn River floodplain, Contact Officer: Neil Watson 03 9412 4763

Brief description: An independent review will be undertaken of the Lower Goulburn Floodplain Rehabilitation proposal. The review will identify any information gaps and any shortcomings in assessment processes of previous studies and reports of the Lower Goulburn Floodplain proposal. It will also evaluate and compare alternative proposals for addressing flood mitigation and floodplain rehabilitation and make recommendations to the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments, and will consult with the Goulburn Broken CMA, Goulburn Murray Water, councils and other key stakeholders.

Further media inquiries: Mr Truss's office: Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433 Dr Kemp's office:

Catherine Job: (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 221 433 Mr Thwaite's office: Ilsa Colson (03) 9651 0957 or 0418 368 639