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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 27 August 2009) . . Page.. 3842 ..

In Victoria, the state government supports in principle the biosphere concept on the basis that any new biosphere reserve will be community driven, self-funded and based on voluntary participation by individuals. The ACT government sees merit in adopting the approach from Victoria because it ensures community ownership and is fundamental to a biosphere reserve achieving its purpose.

The government decision not to sponsor the biosphere reserve proposal does not preclude a community-driven, self-funded nomination based on voluntary participation by community and individuals, similar to the Mornington Peninsula and the Western Port biosphere reserves in Victoria.

The various pressures on the ACT government’s budget require clear prioritisation of initiatives seeking funding. A biosphere reserve nomination would be a high cost measure that may not lead to any additional on-ground conservation outcomes. The principles of a biosphere reserve are already encapsulated in a number of ACT government policies, including people, place, prosperity, weathering the change, the spatial plan and individual park management plans.

ACT government policy will continue to encourage economic development that is based on sustainable and wise use of regional, natural and human resources and will foster a long-term perspective on sustainability. The government is progressing a broad range of initiatives in the areas of conservation, tourism and sustainability, and the extent of any additional benefits from a biosphere reserve are not clear at this time.

The standing committee’s report identifies potential benefits from awareness raising. The government knows that raising awareness about sustainability issues in the broader community, and stimulating behavioural change, is important. The government is pursuing this directly through implementing policies and measures to move towards the long-term goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions for the territory. This is a major priority for sustainability.

Potential tourism outcomes were also identified in the report. It is the government’s view that these could be pursued through other measures, such as marketing Canberra as a gateway to the Australian Alps natural landscape. The potential for World Heritage listing has also been explored with the Australian government, through its Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. The ACT government understands that there will be a very limited opportunity for Australia to achieve additional World Heritage listings over the next 10 years.

The World Heritage Committee has urged Australia, through the Australian government, to exercise restraint in nominating properties because Australia already has a large number of world heritage sites compared to other nations. As a consequence, Australia will only pursue three to four nominations over the next 10 years. An ACT nomination, based on the advice we received from the Australian government, is not likely to be supported at this time.

In tabling this report, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Sixth Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning and Environment. I commend the response to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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