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Massive boost for Tasmania's environment: 185 Natural Heritage Trust projects announced.

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Media Release


Senator the Hon Robert Hill

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Minister for the Environment


16 September 1998






The Federal Government today annou nced Tasmania has been allocated 185 projects worth $10 million as part of the first round of Natural Heritage Trust grants for 1998/9.


Senator Hill said that “51 projects worth $2.6 million will be funded by the new Bushcare program to protect and restore native vegetation.


“Bushcare is the largest investment in native vegetation conservation in Australia’s history.


“The 51 Bushcare projects in Tasmania will establish more than 36,000 trees, revegetate over 580 hectares of degraded land and protect 1500 hectares of remnant bushland.


“They will also result in 940 kilometres of new fencing.


“Tasmania Bushcare projects will target three main issues:

* the protection of remnant native vegetation,

* the revegetation of cleared areas for stock shelter, wind breaks and restoring wildlife habitat; and

* the protection and revegetation of key ecological vegetation communities identified in the preliminary report of the Bushcare-funded Tasmanian Vegetation Management Strategy."


John Anderson said that “69 Landca re projects will receive $3.6 million to help protect Tasmania’s land, rivers and wildlife habitat in 1998/9, through integrated catchment planning, promotion of sustainable agricultural techniques and Landcare support services.


“We are also supporting 34 Rivercare projects worth $1.6 million to help protect and restore Tasmanian rivers through the development and implementation of local Rivercare plans and rehabilitation activities.”


Senator Hill said “Macquarie Island will receive its second instalment of $300,000 to eradicate feral cats as part of an integrated vertebrate pests management program.


“This three year project will contribute significantly towards the conservation of albatrosses and other seabirds on this World Heritage listed island.


“The Natural Heritage Trust will also provide over $450,000 to complement nature conservation initiatives developed through the Regional Forest Agreement process, including the addition of 158 hectares of high priority native grassland and threatened karst ecosystems being added to the Tasmania’s nature reserves in central and north western Tasmania".


A range of additional projects under the Farm Forestry, Wetlands and Fisheries Action Programs and Waterwatch make the Natural Heritage Trust grants a fully integrated package to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture in Tasmania.


For further information:

Peter Cosier 0419 693 811, Rob Haynes 026 277 7520





1998/99 Projects funded in Tasmania


Since Tasmania was first settled by Europeans, there has been extensive clearing of vegetation, particularly in the Midlands, the North and East coasts, and on the Bass Strait islands.


Land clearance remains the single most significant threat to remnant vegetation and flora and fauna conservation. The rate of land clearance in Tasmania is still for in excess of the rate of revegetation.


Between 1980-88, clearing averaged 6,000 hectares per annum, increasing to an average of 10,500 hectares per annum between 1988-1994, and was concentrated on poorly-reserved vegetation types on private land.


The challenge now is to conserve the remaining bushland, especially endangered vegetation communities and revegetate areas that have been overcleared in the past.


Applicants in Tasmania will receive in the order of $2.6 million in the first round of Bushcare funding in 1998-99 grants to carry out 51 projects to protect and restore native vegetation.


Of these, 28 ore new projects totalling nearly $1.5 million and 23 are continuing projects totalling $1.1 million.


The new Bushcare projects in Tasmania will establish more than 36,000 plants, vegetate over 580 hectares of land and protect around 1500 hectares of remnant bush.


About 940 km of fencing will be erected.


Natural Heritage Trust

Helping Communities Helping Australia



Bushcare is the largest investment in native vegetation conservation in Australia's history - with ten times more funding than all previous Commonwealth vegetation initiatives combined.


Within 3 years it is anticipated that, for the first time since European settlement, Australians will be establishing more native vegetation than is being cleared - thanks to the Bushcare program.


This is a great and ambitious goal to achieve at the start of the new century.


Bushcare funding provided to Tasmania in the first round for 1998/99 to help Australia achieve this goal is as follows:


Project Category Projects Funding

Community initiated projects 35 1,043,279

Local government 6 242,634

Non-government organisations 7 645,573

State agency projects 3 674,212

Total 51 2,605,698


Community Projects

Over 64 percent of funds in this round of Bushcare grants will be provided to community groups and non government organisations.


These projects in Tasmania target three main issues:

* to protect remnant native vegetation,

* to revegetate cleared areas for stock shelter, wind breaks and restore wildlife habitat; and

* protection and restore key ecological vegetation communities eg Eucalyptus amygdalina forest, as identified in the preliminary report of the Bushcare-funded Tasmanian Vegetation Management Strategy.


Several Tasmanian projects are district-scale integrated activities involving the cooperative efforts of networks of community groups. Others, just as important, are smaller projects by enthusiastic individual group s. Examples of both large and small scale projects include:


* $67,640 for North East Coast Landcare Group to conserve 234.1 ha of threatened coastal bushlands in a cooperative project involving 18 landholders


* $43,331 to the Pegarah Landcare Group to pr otect and restore 106.4 ha of threatened and high priority vegetation remnants and catchments of the Pegarah Plateau on King Island.

* $2,547 to the Little Musselroe Landcare Group to plant 1,250 trees and erect a small section of fencing to exclude stock from a creek environ.

* $8,467 to the Reekara Landcare Group to encourage biodiversity and establish new vegetation corridors in areas of declining native vegetation through the planting of 2,250 trees and the erection of 3 km of fencing.


Regional Grants

Three projects totalling $937,584 will provide direct financial assistance to landholders and small community groups at a regional scale, to fence off rivers and native vegetation, create wildlife corridors and revegetate hundreds of hectares of farmland, according to the priorities outlined in regional or catchment plans.


These projects are:


* $398,335 to the Macquarie/South Esk Natural Resources Management Action Group to protect remnant native vegetation and to restore degraded areas.


* $139,249 to the Glamorgan-Spring Bay Landcare Steering Committee to improve the health of remnant native vegetation and riparian areas and to arrest the decline of eroding areas through revegetation projects.


* Greening Australia Tasmania will be granted $400,000 to im plement the priorities identified in the Bushcare-funded Tasmanian Vegetation Management Strategy. It is estimated that up to 300 km of fencing will be installed, protecting up to 1500 ha of native vegetation.


Wildlife Habitat

Several community projects, specifically aimed at protecting wildlife habitat, have been approved in 1998/9 including:


* $9,925 for the Stanley Peninsula Landcare Group to restore Striped Marsh Frog habitat near Smithton.

* $12,000 for the Sunny Hills Landcare Group to protect the h abitat of the Giant Freshwater lobster.

* $7,372 for the World Wide Fund for Nature to promote the conservation requirements of threatened dry forest and woodland ecosystems through the management of firewood harvesting.

* $35,570 for the St Mary's District High Parents and Friends Group to rehabilitate Swift Parrot habitat within the species' restricted range in eastern Tasmania.


Local Government

Local governments have a crucial role in native vegetation management, reflected in the Bushcare funding of projects such as:


* $23,349 for the King Island Natural Resources Management Group, a committee of the King Island Council, to protect threatened and high priority remnant vegetation species in the Lower Sea Elephant region by fencing out livestock.

* $50,000 to Launceston City Council to carry out ecological planning in the high visitation Cataract Gorge Reserve, an area rich in significant plant species.


Technical Support

In Tasmania, Greening Australia, through the Bushcare Support contract ($7m nationally) is providing technical support to community groups at a grassroots level to help them get the right vegetation in the right places for the right reasons. This contract provides invaluable advice, and also access to specialist equipment such as mechanical tree planters and direct seeding machines, and regional seedbanks.


Bushcare also invests $560,000 in a network of six Regional Bushcare Facilitators in Tasmania, supported by an additional four Technical Facilitators, to assist the community with planning for better vegetation management, and to improve the incentives available to assist landholders and community groups with vegetation projects.







Australia's natural resources, land, water and vegetation, are some of our most valuable assets. The land and water resource base is particularly important in the Australian economy. Agriculture has an annual gross value of production of about $25 billion. Irrigated agriculture generates annual revenue of about $6 billion, while total urban and rural water assets are valued at $90 billion. 60 per cent of Australia's land mass is managed by farmers.


At the same time the natural resource base is the foundation for biodiversity and conservation, and is important for environmental reasons.


Maintenance of agricultural productivity and competitiveness in Australia has been bought at the price of the condition of the land itself. Degradation of Australia's land and water resources cost billions of dollars in lost agricultural production. Major problems of salinity, wind and water erosion, weed invasion and excessive run-off of nutrients into our waterways have arisen. Too little attention has been given to the development of agricultural systems that can cope with the variability and the particular challenges of the Australian environment. The National Landcare Program assists community groups, in partnership with all levels of government, to address these problems.


The National Landcare Program is the backbone of the natural resource management programs in primary industries. There are now more than 4000 landcare groups across Australia, with an estimated one in three farmers now a member of a Landcare group. In recognition of the importance of the Landcare movement, funding has been extended under the Natural Heritage Trust to allow community groups to expand their work to include other priorities, for example through the Bushcare and Rivercare programs. Under the Landcare Program priority has been given to funding community group activities and those which assist in achieving long-term sustainable outcomes.


National Landcare Program funding provided to Tasmania for 1998-99 is:


Project Category Projects Funding


Community groups 27 $0.735m


State Agencies 25 $1.707m


Regional, local government 19 $1.565m

and other bodies


Total 71 $3.557m


Projects supported under the NLP are directed at the following issues:-


* the development and implementation of integrated catchment management plans including the initial development of a plan in the Brid-Fores ter Catchment ($17,501) and the implementation of the well-established Catchment Plan in the Huon Valley ($103,500). The implementation phases include on-ground activities such as: field days, chemical retrievals, catchment clean-up campaigns, conserving/fencing of remnant vegetation to address degradation and streambank stabilisation;


* the development and implementation of weed management strategies, including supporting the establishment of the East Coast Weed Management Strategy ($28,024) and the Glamo rgan-Spring Bay Catchments Project ($139,249);


* addressing salinity problems through a Community Based Onground Salinity Project ($93,223) in the north of the State, land degradation issues in the Coal River catchment ($74,400) and the need for farm management plans through continued support for the Property Management Planning campaign; and


* community landcare group assistance in facilitation and coordination through continuing support of the Tasmanian Community Landcare Association ($123, 590) and landcare support officers in the field.






The National Rivercare Program is a major investment in activities which will improve the health of Australia's river systems outside the Murray-Darling Basin. It has a focus on targeted on-ground works, Research and Development with practical application, and community awareness. Rivercare ties in closely with, and is a logical extension of, the National Landcare Program.


Some of the activities already funded have included action by community groups to improve water quality in local rivers, stormwater management, water quality and nutrient management and activities focusing on environmental flows.


Project Category Projects Funding


Community groups 27 $0.874m


State Agencies 6 $0.610m


Regional, local government 1 $0.078m

and other bodies


Total 34 $1.562m


Projects supported under the National Rivercare Program are directed at the following issues:-


* development and implementation of local rivercare plans, including on the Meander River at Exton ($80,100) and Barretts Bri dge at Deloraine ($67,200) to establish a sound basis for well targeted on-ground works that include activities such as: improving riparian zones, replanting trees and removing willows; and


* an increased understanding of ecological, geomorphological and hydrological factors affecting rivers and waters courses in Tasmania; leading to the development of environmental management objectives for rivers, improved state of the rivers reporting and community involvement in water management planning across the State (package of six projects $0.67 m).