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Farming soil and wetlands among targets for investment.



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JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Peter Garrett MP The Hon Tony Burke MP

Australian Minister for the Environment, Australian Minister for Agriculture, Heritage & the Arts Fisheries and Forestry

Friday 28 November 2008

FARMING SOIL AND WETLANDS AMONG TARGETS FOR INVESTMENT

Improving soil condition on farming land and stepping up the protection of important wetlands are among the top initial priorities in the Rudd Government’s $2.25 billion investment plan for managing Australia’s natural resources.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Agriculture Minister Tony Burke today launched the inaugural Business Plan setting out the Government’s targets for the next year of Caring for our Country.

Business plans will be released annually to ensure the funding is targeted and delivers the best results for the environment and farming land.

Specific targets for Caring for our Country in 2009-10 include:

• improving the management of land to reduce the risk of soil acidification and soil loss experienced by 42,000 farmers;

• addressing the threats posed by pest plants and animals to Ramsar wetlands;

• increasing the adoption of better land management practices by a further 1300 farmers to improve the quality of water reaching the Great Barrier Reef lagoon;

• undertaking 1500 community volunteer days of cane toad control to slow their southern and westward migration; and

• increasing by at least 400,000 hectares over the next two years the area of native habitat and vegetation that is managed to enhance the condition, connectivity and resilience of habitats and landscapes.

Minister Garrett said the business plan marked a new era of safeguarding Australia’s outstanding natural environment and building a more resilient and sustainable agriculture sector under the $2.25 billion Caring for our Country initiative.

“The Business Plan for 2009-10 is a first. We are leading the way by having a plan which details exactly what we are investing in our natural environment each year and what we expect to achieve for that investment,” Mr Garrett said.

“The plan outlines a range of practical targets and achievable outcomes for which we are seeking investment proposals from community, regional industry and non-government organisations.

“We are looking for proposals that will deliver real and measurable change in restoring and maintaining the health of Australia’s natural landscapes.”

Minister Burke said the Business Plan included important priorities to benefit farmers and help to improve their land.

“Farmers already know the importance of protecting our natural resources, which is why they are continually improving their land management techniques,” Mr Burke said.

“This investment from the Government will help to ensure that good work continues.

“One of our six key priorities in the Business Plan is sustainable farm practices, to build on the ongoing success of the national Landcare program.”

Caring for our Country encourages projects which involve a range of partners, including large-scale projects of up to $20 million which cover multiple targets and outcomes.

Other projects will be medium-scale, worth between $2 million and $3 million a year, or small-scale, worth between $20,000 and $100,000.

The Business Plan also identifies ten geographic areas across Australia, containing key environmental and productive assets, where large-scale investments could potentially be undertaken.

These areas include the Kimberley, Australia’s tropical savannas, and the native grasslands of the Tasmanian Midlands.

The Government will provide an annual report card on progress under Caring for our Country.

Caring for our Country takes a new, coordinated and transparent approach to environmental management in Australia, built on consistent national targets.

For more information visit www.nrm.gov.au