Page 3366 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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MS BERRY: Minister, how else does the government support community initiatives in environmental management?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Berry for the supplementary. The government continues to support a range of other activities. A great example of this is the well-known Landcare organisation. Land carers, park carers and other volunteers are community members working in local parks and reserves. We have seen up to 10,000 hours of unpaid work by our environmental volunteers each year. I know Mr Gentleman spoke about Landcare in the Assembly, I think during the adjournment. The government supports Landcare through the environment grants program and also through the heritage grants program, both of which provide additional funding for on-ground work to protect natural and cultural heritage sites and promote innovation.

I mentioned the ACT Landcare awards in my previous answer, and I would just like to highlight some of the great work done by the Landcare volunteers, in particular, the joint winners of the quiet achiever award, Dr Ken Hodgkinson and Dr John Fitzgerald, highlighting the very significant work they do on behalf of Friends of Grasslands. Anne McGrath of Majura Free Range Eggs also received an award for innovation in sustainable farming practices and in recognition of her work in implementing good Landcare practices on her property.

This is just another way in which the government combines with volunteer and community-based organisations to strengthen our custodianship and care and restoration of our beautiful natural environment.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, how important is it to continually support local groups such as the Friends of Aranda Bushland? And when you visit these volunteer groups, what do they tell you?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Groups like the Friends of Aranda Bushland do an outstanding job in maintaining and protecting what are very valuable remnant pieces of the natural environment that were extensive across the area that we now know as our city. It is difficult to overestimate the extent and scale of the grassy woodland communities that existed across the area that we now know as the city of Canberra. These were beautiful natural landscapes.

Regrettably, much of them has been lost to European settlement and urban development. The patches that remain deserve protection and enhancement. Groups like Friends of Aranda Bushland make a very significant contribution. Obviously they are out there doing the hard work—woody weed removal, erosion control—but they also have the enjoyment of planting and seeing the restoration of landscapes. So whether they are Friends of Aranda Bushland, Friends of Grasslands, Friends of the Pinnacle or one of a whole range of other groups right across the ACT, I commend them for their work, I thank them for their efforts, and the government will continue to collaborate with them wherever possible, to improve and enhance the native environment of the ACT.

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