The Carpenter Government has committed $125million over five years to natural resource management projects as part of the new national Caring for our Country program.
Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance said $15million had been allocated in the 2008-09 State Budget, while the Federal Government would provide about $29million to the program in WA the same financial year.
Mr Chance said the Caring for our Country program will carry on the work of the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality, the National Landcare and Natural Heritage Trust programs.
“It will include an investment in farm practices to create environmental and production benefits, and in the national reserve system, biodiversity, natural icons, and natural resource management in remote and northern Australia,” the Minister said.
“There will also be a continued commitment to funding community skills and knowledge and engagement in NRM delivery, particularly for indigenous communities.”
Mr Chance said the State Government had invested a total of $45million in natural resource management as part of the 2008-09 State Budget.
The Minister said it was vital to continue investing in the future sustainability of the agricultural sector and address issues such as salinity, land and water management.
Salinity continued to be an important issue and a significant proportion of the Budget funding would be spent on the further implementation of the State Salinity Strategy.
“The strategy provides salinity management options for landholders including risk assessments, integrated catchment water management, using perennial plants, the role of drainage and the production from salt affected land,” Mr Chance said.
“The continuation of research into natural resources is also vital and almost $10million has been provided directly to the Department of Agriculture and Food for this activity.
“Part of this funding will be used to address eutrophication and pollution in important coastal waterways.
“This work will include the development of farm and catchment-scale decision support tools, and look at best practices for nutrient management.
“An important initiative this year, a first, will be the research and measurement of soil condition in the South-West Agricultural Region on a large scale.”
The Minister said research would also continue in the development and implementation of catchment-based land and water management options through the new State Centre of Excellence in Eco-hydrology.
“The centre will receive $1.5million to look at the development and promotion of tools for risk assessment and management of water in the agricultural landscape,” he said.
“It will also look at improved best management practice for industry to manage nutrient inputs and water quality, contributing to the Coastal Catchments Initiative, and develop integrated catchment water management strategies to optimise water use by industry.”
Minister's office - 9213 6700