In addition to annual funding cycles, Caring for our Country provides funding to support a broad range of projects to achieve meaningful improvements to the environment and sustainable agriculture.
Here are a few examples.
Improving water quality in the Gippsland Lakes and Eastern Creek Wetlands
The Gippsland Lakes are listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland system of international significance, providing habitat for approximately 20 000 waterbirds. They are also an important centre for commercial and recreational fishing and recreational water activities.
The lakes are threatened by poor water quality. Land clearing and subsequent use for agricultural and urban development has resulted in excessive nutrient loads producing extensive annual algal blooms and fish kills.
Caring for our Country has invested $5.25 million to increase the uptake of best practice land management in the Gippsland Lakes, specifically in the La Trobe, Moe and Macalister sub catchments. Funding has supported management actions that reduce nutrient runoff from irrigated and dryland agricultural lands into the Gippsland Lakes. The activities implemented are helping to protect endangered or threatened biodiversity.
Funding is also directed to the Eastern Creek project which will filter and improve water quality and control flows into the Gippsland Lakes by rehabilitating a degraded wetland system.
Improving water quality in the Tuggerah Lakes estuary
The Tuggerah Lakes estuarine system is being restored through improved water quality management to reduce sediment in water sources feeding the lakes. Work has focused on controlling sediment and nutrient loads entering the lakes. The mouth of the estuary system has been revegetated and weed infestations reduced. The local community has supported weed removal and tree planting days throughout the catchment. Partnerships with Green Corp and Landcare groups have assisted with the maintenance and replanting of bush regeneration sites after rehabilitation.
Education and behaviour change have gone hand in hand with rehabilitation work at the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary on the New South Wales central coast. Programs to increase public awareness of conservation and water quality issues, as well as training, education, and behaviour change for Council staff involved in the rehabilitation works, have been a focus to improve the water quality management in the Estuary. The restoration work will improve the lakes' ecosystems by managing streambank erosion, stormwater runoff and degraded foreshores to control increasing sediment and nutrients flowing into the lakes.
Caring for our Country provided $8.66 million for Stage 1 of this project and has committed a further $11.34 million for Stage 2, due for completion in 2013.
Managing the cane toad menace in the tropical savannas (NT)
The cane toad is common across much of northern Australia. It is continuing to migrate both west and south. The cane toad has been listed as a key threat under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Cane toads are poisonous during most stages of their life cycle. They pose a direct threat to native animals, which prey on small animals such as tadpoles and frogs.
This project trialled the effectiveness of trapping, 'toad busting' (people collecting toads by hand at night) and using toad exclusion fencing to control cane toads. The project blended local knowledge from volunteer groups such as Frogwatch with research from tertiary institutions such as James Cook University in Queensland.
Supporting research into the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease
Caring for Our Country committed funding over five years to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. The long term aim of this program is to see the Tasmanian devil thriving in the wild. There are four key areas of focus for the program:
- population monitoring to identify disease distribution, spread and impacts on wild devil populations so as to inform management actions
- laboratory-based investigation to improve understanding of the disease, develop diagnostic tests and develop potential treatments
- management of the impact of the disease in the wild including strategies to isolate and manage disease free populations
- establishment of an insurance population of disease-free, genetically-diverse wild animals to prevent the extinction of devils and to provide a source of animals to release back into the wild at an appropriate time.
A Tasmanian devil recovery plan is also being prepared under national environmental law to support long term conservation and recovery of the devil.