WITH an estimated 75 per cent of Australia's dryland salinity problem in Western Australia, WAFarmers is seeking the development of a state-wide strategy to address the costly problem.
WAFarmers say the strategy must prioritise national resource management planning and funding processes to address the impact of salinity.
The most recent analysis on the impact of salinity in WA was the State of the Environment Report (2007). It identified that about 1.1 million hectares of South West land is currently salt-affected and more than 14,000ha of land is lost to land salinisation each year.
WAFarmers president Dale Park said the state government’s recent announcement regarding a framework for inland drainage was a step in the right direction, however a long term solution for salinity was required.
“Whilst significant levels of funding existed through previous programs to tackle salinity, these have decreased in recent years,” Mr Park said.
“The federal government has commented that 'salinity management is primarily a state issue' and is therefore not a high priority in its flagship Caring for our Country program.
“There are 5.4 million hectares of land in the South West of WA which are at risk of salinisation - about 80pc of this is agricultural land, but it also includes important areas of native vegetation, wetlands and infrastructure.”
He said the State NRM Program’s Investment Priorities (2010/11–2013/14) listed one of its priorities as “improved management of agricultural land”, principally referring to the “integration of carbon farming practices and mitigating salinity on high priority agricultural land.”
“WA needs to do more and this requires both an agreed strategy and investment on the required scale to respond to the known and expected impacts of salinity,” Mr Park said.