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Federal funds flow to rescue dying River Red Gums.

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John Forrest MP The Nationals Member for Mallee

Phone (03) 5032 4510 Fax (03) 5032 9407

Tuesday, 13 September 2005


Federal Member for Mallee, John Forrest, today welcomed the announcement by the Australian Government to commit almost $500,000 for emergency watering of highly stressed River Red Gums along the River Murray in Victoria.

Mr Forrest said the funding will be used to water highly stressed or dying River Red Gums in approximately 2000 hectares along the River Murray including those in the Gunbower Forest, Hattah Lakes and Wallpolla Island.

The Australian Government will provide $487,000 and the Victorian Government will match this funding. This initiative will deliver approximately 14 gigalitres of water across nearly 2,000 ha.

“River Red Gums are an iconic part of the Mallee and are fundamental to the ecology of the Murray River and its floodplains. In light of the alarming declines in the health of these trees, I am extremely pleased the Australian and Victorian Governments have worked together to take this action,” Mr Forrest said.

A recent survey by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission indicated up to 75 per cent of River Red Gums along large stretches of the Murray River floodplain are severely stressed or dead.

Mr Forrest said providing water to these stressed trees, by pumping or other means, can improve the health of these trees significantly. “The recent rain in the upper catchment of the Murray has resulted in increased flows down the river and provided a window of opportunity to pump water to these highly stressed trees.

“This action shows the Australian Government is strongly committed to the health of the River Murray and to taking practical, on-ground action to save these highly stressed trees,” Mr Forrest said.

“Since 1996 the Howard Government has committed more than $1 billion to the Murray-Darling Basin. Water for this emergency watering is coming from surplus flows in the system and an existing Victorian environmental allocation so it will not reduce any allocations to local irrigators,” he said.

This initiative is part of the larger Living Murray initiative, which aims to achieve environmental outcomes at significant ecological assets along the Murray, including the Hattah Lakes, Barmah-Millewa Forest, Gunbower and Koondrook-Perricoota Forests and the Chowilla Floodplain, including Lindsay-Wallpolla.

Media Contact Sally Turvey (03) 5032 4510 -ends-