Natural Heritage Trust grants $25m for WA

31 Oct, 2000 03:01 PM
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WA is set to receive more than $25 million in federal funding to help landcare programs, under funding announced last week. Federal Forestry and Conservation Minister Wilson Tuckey travelled to Lawry and Jenny Pitman's Valema Farms at Corrigin to announce the details of the $25,244,254 funding for WA in 2000-01 from the Natural Heritage Trust. An important aspect of the NHT funding emphasised by Mr Tuckey was that it didn't represent the total funding need but was meant to provide the catalyst for other funds and personal "in kind" contributions. Mr Tuckey said the money was intended to help make a start on salinity control, adding that after 20 years representing the O'Connor electorate, results were hard to see. His message to the people present was "one size doesn't fit all", saying there was no single cure, with a variety of problems requiring a number of different solutions. He described calls for the re-establishment of trees in all the areas where clearing had taken place as simplistic, calling reafforestation the "politics of despair". Mr Tuckey said poverty was the greatest enemy of the environment, suggesting instead that greater attention should be paid to solutions that could pay an economic dividend to the landholder. If it was just a matter of lowering the watertable, trees were not very good pumps, and a pump driven by solar or wind power might be a better answer. The WA grants included $11.4m allocated to Landcare, as well as $7.6m for Bushcare, $3.6m for Rivercare, $1m for Farm Forestry, while the smallest individual grant was $46,700 for the environmental component of the National Feral Animal Control program. Individual Landcare grants included $712,722 to Agriculture WA for work in the Avon catchment, $339,301 to Cunderdin/Tammin, $189,089 to Wickepin, $135,300 to Narembeen and $72,201 for Trayning. Mr Tuckey expressed concern over the frequent complaints about the time it took after the grant decisions were made until the funds were made available. He assured recipients that the certificates he was presenting were "bankable documents". He said a special grant of $5m from the Federal Government would be available to start the geophysical mapping of some critical areas, a process he called the "ultrasound of the earth". The aerial mapping procedure was not new, being a proved mineral exploration technique, but the process has failed in many areas because of masking of the minerals by saline water under the surface. What is new was the computer software that had been developed to read the aerial maps, a process that had been assisted by the on-ground testing of the areas overflown. The new technology had given the scientists a better ability to find out just where the saline water was and where it was headed, information that was vital if the problem was to be reversed. Mr Tuckey said a creek in the Murray Darling had been held responsible for adding 13 tonnes of salt to the river each day, yet after an "ultrasound" it could be shown that the saline water was coming from an underground flow nearby.

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