Page 3778 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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ACT continues to have up-to-date policies and that these reflect community expectations. In 2007, the general environment protection and water quality policies were reviewed. The policies to be reviewed in 2008 include environmental noise, contaminated sites and hazardous materials. The government’s environment protection and heritage staff continue to work closely with the ACT Planning and Land Authority to ensure consistently good environmental outcomes, whilst facilitating increased land supply to support housing affordability.

The government is continuing to address the health effects of wood smoke through public education campaigns under the auspices of the ACT firewood strategy. The measures include the “don’t burn tonight” media alerts, enforcement activities under the environment protection legislation and continued administration of the ActewAGL-funded wood heater replacement scheme. The wood heater rebate scheme commenced in 2004 and has resulted in the replacement of approximately 600 inefficient wood heaters with cleaner alternative heating sources.

Information collected from ACT licensed firewood merchants shows that the amount of firewood sold in Canberra has reduced significantly in recent years. In 2001, licensed merchants reported selling 20,747 tonnes of firewood. In 2007, this had dropped to 13,331 tonnes, a reduction of over 35 per cent. This has clear benefits for Canberra’s air quality, especially down in our electorate, Mr Deputy Speaker. The government also supports the retention of our urban forest and significant trees on leased land. The government regulates the removal of significant trees in the built-up urban areas through the provisions of the Tree Protection Act 2005.

Land development needs are balanced by a close, cooperative relationship between the Tree Protection Unit within Territory and Municipal Services and the ACT Planning and Land Authority. Development applications with possible impacts on our major trees in suburban backyards are referred to the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, ensuring that the community’s expectation of the retention of the urban forest is balanced with the need for residential and commercial development.

Whilst the previously mentioned initiatives and reviews give some sense of our current direction, they ignore the very important day-to-day activities that ensure that our environment is protected now and into the future. The government has provided significant funding and resources to environment and recreation, including the environment protection and heritage area, to enable officers to engage with industry, respond to incidents, minimise adverse environmental impacts and undertake compliance activities when required. It is government’s support for these day-to-day activities that continue to provide Canberrans with the wonderful environment we share.

While it is a relatively small jurisdiction, the ACT contains a rich natural heritage, ranging from relatively rare subalpine ecosystems in the Australian alps to diverse and biologically rich ecosystems in the lowland regions in and around Canberra. The ACT is committed to the protection of rare and threatened ecosystems and species that occur in the territory.

Between 2004 and 2007, a series of three conservation strategies for priority species and ecological communities were completed and published as action plans 27, 28 and

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