It will be the single biggest investment over the next four years under the landmark $2 billion program.
Caring for our Country reformed the way environmental and sustainable farming projects were funded, by creating a transparent system and cutting red tape.
It coordinates projects across the country around consistent national targets which are backed by an annual business plan to focus investment and deliver maximum results.
Announcing the funding today, Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, said it would support local community projects through to major national initiatives, including:
- $293 million for 56 regional organisations, more than 1,200 community groups and more than 12,000 landholders to protect and conserve Australia’s natural resources - our farming land, water, coasts, plants and animals
- $51.8 million to help deliver on the Government’s election commitment to protect the Great Barrier Reef;
- $57.5 million to support 57 significant projects across Australia, including targeting weeds such as blackberry and lantana; pests such as rabbits and protecting Ramsar wetlands.
These significant projects also include a landmark four-year, $19 million initiative to tackle the estimated one million feral camels that devastate Australia’s arid and semi-arid environments.
It is the most significant commitments to tackle feral camels since they were introduced in 1840 to provide transport in arid regions of Australia.
Feral camels cover an estimated 3.3 million square kilometres and cause an estimated $14 million in damage, including to fences, water troughs, bores, buildings and vegetation.
The project will cover the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and involve natural resource management groups, conservation bodies, the pastoral industry, research organisations and state and territory governments.
It is estimated the feral camel population is doubling every nine years. This project aims to lower the population density in priority areas to less than one camel per ten square kilometres.
The $403 million will also fund:
- More than 2,000 community volunteer days of cane toad control;
- Rodent eradication programs on eight of Australia’s small islands;
- Feral animal suppression programs covering more than 178 million hectares to allow regeneration and recovery of critically endangered and threatened species and communities;
- Biological control of weeds of national significance across Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and NSW;
- Around 3,000 additional primary producers using improved soil management methods on their properties; and
- More than 1,000 community organisations to be involved in coastal conservation projects.
- Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett said the investment represented a major step forward for Caring for our Country.
“We have set ambitious targets for investment over the next four years through this program and given applicants a clear indication of the priorities which would guide funding decisions,” Mr Garrett said.
“This business planning process has revolutionised the way the Australian Government invests in natural resource management and has resulted in a set of very high quality, well-targeted projects being selected for funding.
“They will also see local volunteer groups; natural resource management bodies; scientists and other experts; state, territory and the Commonwealth governments working together on some of the nations biggest environmental challenges, from cane toads to feral camels.”
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said the funding recognised the leading role of Australia’s farmers in managing the land.
“Farmers are a big part of the solution to achieve a healthy, sustainable and productive environment across Australia,” Mr Burke said.
“Our primary producers are world leaders in using innovation to boost productivity and ensure they continue to feed, clothe and house families around the world.
“Not only will this funding help farmers continue their great work, it will support regional economies and jobs at the same time, which is so important during a global recession.”