The Turnbull Government is investing an extra $50 million in new projects to improve the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, bringing new investment to a total of $61 million over the last 4 days.
Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, said this latest investment under Phase Three of the Reef Trust will target water quality – one of the greatest threats to the Great Barrier Reef.
“Climate change is a threat to coral reefs around the world – including our iconic Great Barrier Reef,” Minister Hunt said.
“Poor quality water run-off from farms adds to the impact of climate change on the sensitive coral and seagrass ecosystems of the Reef, reducing their health and resilience to stresses such as cyclones and higher than normal sea surface temperatures.
“Maximising the health and resilience of the ecosystem will help the Reef to withstand pressures such as the high sea surface temperatures that are causing the current coral bleaching event.”
Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, said the $50 million funding will assist farmers to continue to improve or adopt practices that keep soil, fertiliser and pesticides on their farms where they are needed, and prevent them from entering waterways and the Great Barrier Reef.
“There has already been a lot of very good work done as a result of investment in previous Reef Rescue and land management programs, combined with the significant efforts of individual farmers who are committed to better environmental outputs from their properties,” Mr Entsch said.
“This investment is a testament to the Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting this natural treasure. It also recognises the vital role that our local farmers play in the efforts to improve water quality.”
• $19.3 million to support cane farmers to move beyond industry best practice for nutrient, irrigation, pesticide and soil management, with a particular focus on improved fertiliser budgeting.
• $23.7 million for improve grazing land management to reduce erosion losses to the Reef, with emphasis on matching sustainable stocking rates to long-term sustainable carrying capacity of grazing properties.
• $7.1 million to maintain water quality improvement momentum in the Reef catchment grains, dairy and horticulture industries, with the highest priorities being soil retention in grain cropping, and nutrient and ground cover management in banana cropping
The projects are led by the Queensland Farmers Federation in partnership with members of the Reef Alliance.
Stuart Armitage, President of the Queensland Farmers Federation, welcomed the announcement.
“The Queensland Farmers Federation, on behalf of all delivery partners, welcomes the Federal Government’s significant investment through the Reef Trust to improve land management practices which will protect the Great Barrier Reef.”
“Landholders along the Reef have a very real and local stake in ensuring the Reef is protected for future generations.”
The development of these latest projects has been overseen by the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan Independent Expert Panel, chaired by the former Commonwealth Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb.
The Turnbull Government’s $140 million Reef Trust focuses on improving water quality, and protecting coastal habitats and the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef.
Phase Three funding builds on the current Reef Trust initiatives which include:
• restoring key wetlands along the Reef catchment coastal zone
• targeted erosion control in priority grazing regions
• improving fertiliser efficiency on sugar cane farms in the Wet Tropics and Burdekin regions through market-based incentives
• increasing protection of dugongs and marine turtles
• controlling coral eating crown of thorns starfish on high value tourism reefs.
“Farmers in the Reef catchment have already made a positive contribution towards meeting water quality targets by reducing fertiliser and soil runoff, and reducing pesticide loss by over 30 per cent,” Mr Entsch said.
“Continued and intensified efforts by all Reef stakeholders will be essential to continue to build this momentum in the future.”
Mr Hunt said the new projects will be delivered as an integrated programme that builds on the Trust’s investment to date of more than $35 million.
“They will make an important contribution to implementing the Reef 2050 Plan to protect and manage the Reef for future generations.”
Members of the Reef Alliance bid (for the purposes of this funding) include:
• Australian Banana Growers’ Council
• Burnett Mary Regional Group
• Cape York Natural Resource Management Ltd
• Fitzroy Basin Association
• NQ Dry Tropics Ltd
• Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation
• Queensland Farmers’ Federation
• Regional Groups Collective
• Terrain NRM
• WWF – Australia