7 January 2010
Joint media release
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett
Reducing the impact of pest animals, improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef and protecting Australia's coastline from the effects of climate change are among the key priorities for investment in the second annual business plan for the Australian Government's $2 billion Caring for our Country initiative.
Announcing the launch of the 2010-11 Caring for our Country business plan today, Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Tony Burke, said more than $300 million would be invested in environmental protection and sustainable resource management.
"Rural and urban community groups, landholders and organisations can now apply to share in up to $171 million of Caring for our Country funding for single and multi-year projects ranging in value from $20,000 to $1.5 million under this year's business plan," Mr Garrett said.
This is in addition to the annual base-level funding of $138 million for 56 regional natural resource management organisations around Australia.
Mr Garrett and Mr Burke said the 2010-11 business plan sets out clear targets for investment which would contribute to the achievement of the five year outcomes for Caring for our Country.
These targets reflect scientific assessment, progress made to date, and extensive consultation with stakeholders on the targets contained in the 2009-10 business plan.
This feedback is also reflected in improvements to the application process for funding under the 2010-11 business plan, more clarity on funding available for each priority area, and greater flexibility in the activities eligible for funding.
Mr Garrett and Mr Burke said the 2010-11 business plan will continue to target the six national priority areas for Caring for our Country:
- Protection of the Great Barrier Reef
- Expansion of the National Reserve System and Indigenous Protected Areas
- Continued support for community Coastcare, protecting Australia's coastlines and aquatic ecosystems
- Protection of Australia's biodiversity and natural icons including targeting feral animals, expanding the Environmental Stewardship Program, and supporting World Heritage Areas
- Further help farmers, fishers and land managers adopt more sustainable practices.
Mr Garrett said that one of the key elements of this year's business plan is to help address the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which faces continued threat from the impacts of climate change and declining water quality.
"Funding of $49 million will be available to help land managers adopt better practices to improve the quality of water entering the reef. Research and development funding will also be available to help us better understand the link between what happens on the land and how it affects the reef," Mr Garrett said.
"We also recognise the great efforts of coastal communities in tackling erosion and climate threats to Australia's coastline. To help them, funding will be boosted to $29 million to support ongoing volunteer Coastcare activities.
"To protect environmental values in and around World Heritage Areas, $6 million will be made available to identify key threats to natural values and to secure management arrangements for 10 state-managed World Heritage sites in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia."
Mr Burke said that the Caring for our Country business plan was aiming to reduce the impacts of invasive pests and will provide Stewardship payments to landholders o protect native vegetation on their land.
"This business plan will fund activities to reduce the impact of pest animals, including rabbits, feral dogs and feral pigs. These pests damage native vegetation and farmlands, as well as threatening livestock and native animals," Mr Burke said.
"The Environmental Stewardship Program will give landholders in South Australia the opportunity to farm productively while actively protecting the environment, following the success of the program in New South Wales and Queensland.
"The Australian Government will also be making funds available for the aquaculture industry to improve water quality. Improving sustainable practices in the commercial fishing industry is a new target for investment in this year's business plan."
Landcare facilitators are also eligible for funding for the first time, recognising the essential role they play in communities.
Mr Garrett and Mr Burke said that the second business plan would continue to support the work being done by groups across the country to support the outcomes of Caring for our Country.
"Since its launch in July 2008 the Australian Government has invested more than $1.3 billion in the Caring for our Country initiative, in both short and long-term projects, including more than $455 million approved in 2009-10," Mr Garrett said.
"This Caring for our Country funding is helping 56 regional NRM organisations, and, through them, more than 1200 community groups and more than 12,000 landholders, to protect and conserve Australia's natural resources; our farming land, water, coasts, plants and animals."
An electronic application form will be available on the Caring for our Country website shortly.
Information sessions for business plan applicants will be held in late January and early February. Venue information and session times are also available on the Caring for our Country website.
For more information on applying for funding under the Caring for our Country 2010-11 Business Plan visit www.nrm.gov.au or call 1 800 552 008.