Page 417 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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there would be some impact on soil and water turbidity in the catchment. Notwithstanding that the ACT government embarked on an ambitious program to restore the Cotter catchment and limit long-term damage to the area.

To take account of issues faced by the government while making decisions about the rehabilitation of the lower Cotter catchment, a comprehensive consultation process that incorporated scientific inputs was undertaken. The government acknowledged the need for a comprehensive approach to respond to the impact of bushfires by establishing the non-urban study steering committee. In November 2003 the government released the report of the non-urban study steering committee entitled, Shaping Our Territory, Final Report: Opportunities for Non-Urban ACT, which provided 113 recommendations for the best uses of non-urban areas for the sustainable social, environmental and economic development of the territory.

The ACT government largely endorsed those recommendations; established a working group headed by Sandy Hollway to implement the recommendations in the report; agreed that a major feasibility study and master plan be undertaken for long-term planning of the Cotter precinct; agreed that a study be undertaken to determine the best land management options for water catchments including reafforestation, riparian vegetation and bushfire management options; and agreed that a study be undertaken to identify areas to be replanted with pines and native species.

The situation that we face in the aftermath of the fires, and even now, is unknown to our advisers. The ACT government initiated significant research and consultation processes to inform its actions to rehabilitate the Cotter catchment. In the absence of a proven model able to take account of the large issues faced by the government in making decisions about rehabilitation of the catchment, a comprehensive consultation process incorporating scientific inputs was undertaken. That included inputs from a large range of community, scientific and academic organisations including the Cooperative Research Centre for Fresh Water Ecology, the Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrology, Greening Australia, the ANU Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, or CRES, and ActewAGL.

Each of those specialist groups has drawn on models, long-term research results and empirical data relating to their specific fields of expertise. That information has been synthesised during a series of meetings, workshops and field visits to develop the sub-catchment level rehabilitation plan for the Pierces Creek and Dry Creek sub-catchment. That plan takes account of land-use requirements, including fire abatement zones, riparian area establishment and enhancement, cultural site protection and buffering, recreational facilities, potential rural development sites, steep areas that are inappropriate for re-establishment with pine plantation, pine plantations that are to be removed and replaced with native species to enhance boundary management and improve fire protection, roads to be upgraded to enhance fire management capability, roads to be removed to reduce sediment and runoff issues thus enhancing water quality, and road drainage and erosion mitigation systems to be redesigned and upgraded to reduce sediment runoff.

As part of the integrated approach to rehabilitation of the burnt plantation sites, Greening Australia is working closely with ACT government agencies. To date there have been four public tree-planting events which have seen hundreds of volunteers plant thousands

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