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New toolkit to assess effects of reforestation.

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New toolkit to assess effects of reforestation

DAFF06/082A 19 July 2006

A new toolkit developed by Ensis* to increase the cost effectiveness of revegetation projects, including commercial timber plantations, was launched in Melbourne today by the Australian Forestry and Conservation Minister, Senator Eric Abetz.

“The toolkit can be used by land owners and managers, including government organisations and Catchment Management Authorities to target spending on revegetation projects to maximise the environmental outcomes”, the Minister said.

“The tool kit can also be used to identify the different impacts of revegetation projects on salinity, water availability, sedimentation, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.”

Senator Abetz said plantation Managed Investment Schemes and other forestry companies could also use the toolkit to demonstrate the benefits of their commercial timber plantations for the environment.

“Often the environmental benefits of commercial timber plantations are overlooked. This toolkit will help companies to measure the environmental benefits of new plantations, allowing them to communicate those benefits to the community. Accurate measurement of these benefits raises the potential for plantation growers to obtain income from the sale of environmental credits where schemes for such credits exist.

“New forests provide employment in regional areas and boost regional economies, but they also have very significant environmental benefits”, Senator Abetz said.

Senator Abetz said the Australian Government had contributed more than $3 million from the Natural Heritage Trust over the past three years to the project. Ensis matched the contribution in kind, designing the Geographic Information System based toolkit and undertaking the research behind the models used.

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries had also contributed funds.

Other supporting organisations included the Goulburn Catchment Management Authority, Central Victorian Farm Plantations and the Murray Darling Basin Commission as well as a number of timber industry organisations.

* Ensis is a collaboration between CSIRO in Australia and Scion in New Zealand.

Further inquiries:

Senator Abetz’s office: Brad Stansfield 0419 884 666 Ensis Forests and Environment: Dr Philip Polglase 02 6281 8204