Page 71 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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Plans of management focus on providing the management framework within which protected areas are to be managed. They provide policy direction on appropriate management strategies that may be adopted by the land management agency. Plans of management have traditionally not attempted to commit government funding, with the land manager instead pursuing funding initiatives through participation in the yearly Treasury-led budget bid process.

Decisions on funding are best made in a holistic context and in response to prioritised needs which, of course, may change over time. This government prefers to fund the management of the lower Cotter catchment using an adaptive management model. That is to say that the land manager applies and learns from the applications of on ground works and strategies, and budget bids are generated to support new initiatives and priorities that are considered for funding by budget cabinet on their merits and with the whole-of-government perspective Treasury is able to bring.

Recommendation 6 calls on government to prioritise the finalisation of a recreation strategy for the lower Cotter catchment, and this is agreed in part. As I have mentioned earlier, EPSDD is currently finalising the development of a statutory draft management plan for the lower Cotter catchment. Recreation policy is incorporated within the plan as it is important to consider strategic recreation issues within the broader context of overall management of the area. It is my intention to ensure that the intent of the committee’s recommendation—that is to ensure appropriate controls on recreational activity and the need to lift awareness of the lower Cotter catchment’s values—is addressed in the recreation chapter of the management plan.

The government agrees with the remaining five recommendations outlined in the committee report—namely: rec 2, to improve transparency with regard to budget inflow and outflow related to management works in the lower Cotter catchment; rec 3, that the government report to the Assembly on progress in implementation of all the recommendations of the audit report by March next year; rec 4, that I provide an update on progress of the Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment’s evaluation of the restoration works in the lower Cotter catchment by March 2017; recommendation 5, that government update the Assembly on progress on pine wildling removal trials in the Blue Range area by the last sitting day of 2016; and rec 7, that the government consider extending the program of native planting and habitat restoration for the lower Cotter catchment.

I would now like to update the Assembly in some detail on the Blue Range wildlings trial, as recommendation 5 of the report proposed the government should do. Recommendation 5 stated that government should:

Inform the ACT Legislative Assembly by the last sitting date in 2016 as to the progress on the pine wildling removal trials within the Blue Range area. This should include detail on (i) key milestones; (ii) trial outcomes concerning identification of removal methods that best align with the preservation of water; and (iii) a proposed timeline for implementation of pine wildling removal within the lower Cotter catchment.

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