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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5275 ..

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (4.27): Like the Canberra community, the government is strongly committed to protecting and effectively managing our natural and cultural environment in order to maintain a viable and sustainable Canberra. When the government came into office, our first initiative was to commit $1.5 million over three years to establish a new focus for nature conservation-A sustainable bush capital in the new millennium program.

The program included additional ranger staff and equipment for our nature reserves to increase park management, community relations and essential conservation activities; a comprehensive natural resource information management system to support nature conservation planning and management-information about management of activities planned and occurring in the field is now readily available to our land managers; mechanisms for supporting volunteer groups and engaging the community in nature conservation; tailored education and information programs for the community-as a result of that program I recently released the Woodlands Education Kit which will engage school communities in understanding the endangered woodlands of the ACT and enable them to play an active role; and a review of conservation priorities in the ACT, including the review of the action plan for threatened yellow box and red gum woodlands. The draft woodlands strategy-action plan 27-was released in June this year and is about to be finalised.

From day one, the government has clearly demonstrated its commitment to the environment with the launch and implementation of the new millennium program. This is a sensible, rational program aimed at outcomes based on knowledge and a sound strategic approach.

As a direct response to action plan 27-the ACT lowland woodlands conservation strategy-the government announced in the last budget a $1.6 million new program over four years for the protection of an extra 1,000 hectares of woodlands in reserves-our reserve system is the greatest single addition to our woodland, certainly since self-government and probably ever-and two additional ranger staff to manage and monitor the reserves and money to establish infrastructure and programs to protect the woodlands and threatened species that live in them.

The woodland strategy is not just an ACT government strategy. Its implementation involves working on a regional level with our counterparts in New South Wales, with community groups, landholders, volunteers and scientists. The woodlands strategy is an example of best practice environmental management-management based on science, knowledge and planning. I think it is fair to say that we do not just produce these plans and allow them to sit on the shelf and gather dust; we are implementing them.

The restoration of our urban bushland and environment, as well as our heritage assets destroyed by the bushfire, is a very critical issue. The government was quick to respond to the environmental and community imperatives by committing, post bushfire, $1 million over three years for implementation of the bushfire fuel management plan to address the immediate risks associated with the fire potential, including fuel reduction works in parts of Canberra Nature Park adjoining residential areas; $2 million over three years to restore walking trails and repairing land in our nature reserves that was damaged when 250 kilometres of fire suppression trails were cut through previously undisturbed

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