Funding injection to help tackle reef water pollution

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

The Palaszczuk Government has announced another $3 million to help tackle water pollution and help farmers make their operations more profitable and sustainable.

As part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan, additional funding will be given to help monitor water quality across 25 locations in the Tully and Johnstone catchments.

That information will then be provided to local cane and banana farmers so they can reduce the loss of farm products like valuable fertilisers to local waters, which often end up in the reef.

Joining one of Australia’s largest natural resource management bodies Terrain NRM to make the announcement, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said it was just one way government and industry were working together to address water pollution while also improving farming practices.

“We know the two biggest threats to the reef are water pollution and climate change,” Minister Scanlon said.

“That’s why we’ve locked in another $270 million in our budget to help protect the reef, alongside major investments like our $2 billion renewable energy fund.

“It’s also why for the past four years we’ve partnered with Terrain NRM to rollout the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project, and work with farmers on the ground to improve their practices.

“It’s been a huge success already with 80 per cent of local farmers already having taken part in the project – and this injection of funding adds to that program.

“The Palaszczuk Government has already invested $15 million in this MIP and due to its success and job creation for the local community we are pledging this additional funding.

“This is the type of data that will help landholders better understand the potential impact of different land uses on local waterways and encourages growers to further explore opportunities to reduce losses of nutrients, sediment and pesticides to waterways.

“It’s an investment will improve water quality in this world-heritage-listed area, and the $6 billion economy and 60,000 jobs that rely on it.”

Terrain NRM and departmental staff will continue working together to ensure the learnings from the past 4 years are are built upon.

Terrain NRM is coordinating the Wet Tropics MIP Chief Executive Officer Stewart Christie said:

“This continued investment for fine scale water quality monitoring in the Tully and Johnstone catchments is fantastic news for accelerating progress towards our Reef targets. We know from our work on the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) over the past four years that providing locally relevant and relatable science data that helps farmers make paddock management decisions is essential for creating change.

“The MIP has been a gamechanger in terms of engaging farmers in shaping the design and implementation of the project. They asked for robust fine scale data they could trust, we delivered it and now it is showing results in terms of farm practice change.”

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