Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Landcare misses out

While agriculture dodged some anticipated bullets in the federal budget, the shrapnel has spread since its release last week, particularly in the natural resource management sector.

CATHY WALKER May 20, 2014 3:10am

Landcare programs have had $483 million stripped from them although Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey was quick to point out the government had allocated $525million on establishing a Green Army of 15000 young people to do Landcare works.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority chief executive officer Chris Norman was clearly unimpressed.

‘‘Whilst specific budget details relevant to the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority are yet to be provided, this appears to be a very disappointing result for the catchment, as it is for the environment generally,’’ Mr Norman said.

‘‘While the authority last year secured significant Commonwealth funding to deliver on a range of soil health, biodiversity, weed management and community projects over a five-year period, it is likely now that this funding will reduce from 2015-16.

‘‘It is also likely that the opportunity for community groups, such as Landcare, to apply for various grants programs over the next few years will now be reduced too.’’

Mr Norman said details of how the Green Army Program was to operate had not yet been provided by the Federal Government, but based on the reduced funding from the budget, more money would be required if the CMAs were to run them.

‘‘(Our) management experience indicates that additional operating funds will be needed by the CMA to successfully implement projects with the Green Army,’’ he said.

A Goulburn Valley Landcare facilitator who did not wish to be named was disappointed about budget cuts and wary of the Green Army concept.

‘‘Our concern is that if we have any reduction in funding from the Federal Government many of our existing projects will fall over,’’ the officer said.

‘‘And it’s not as easy as they say it is to bring these volunteers in — you are dealing with people that are not experienced in fencing or tree planting, so you need to be out there all the time with them and that could be more of a headache than anything.

‘‘They’d need an intensive training course; occupational health and safety is your biggest issue.’’

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