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$10 million to restore and protect Gippsland Lakes

The environmental health of the Gippsland Lakes received a boost with the launch of eight new projects to be funded through the Victorian Coalition Government’s $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, announced today.

“The Government and local community have a vested interest to improve the health of the Gippsland Lakes, and that is why we have created the $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund and are working with the community through the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee to develop an environmental strategy for the Lakes,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee would help ensure the environmental significance of the Lakes was maintained into the future by guiding decisionmaking on developments within the Lakes region.

“The committee, led by Chairperson Dr Peter Veenker, is a broad based group with experienced people in the field of environmental science, tourism and recreation, business and management, strategy and planning, and environment and conservation,’ Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the first eight projects to be approved by the Committee include:

 evaluation of the economic and community impact of the 2011/12 Nodularia Algae Bloom - $30,000  funding to support a range of care groups to enhance the biodiversity of the Gippsland Lakes - $160,000  nutrient reduction in the Upper Gippsland Lakes Catchment - $137,500  Latrobe Estuary and wetlands restoration - $120,000  meander restoration along the Lower Latrobe River - $150,000  engaging the Gippsland Lakes community -$80,000  landholders fencing and revegetating the Gippsland Lakes rivers - $44,000  monitoring the environment health of the Gippsland Lakes - $126,000

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, who helped develop the implementation strategy for the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee and Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund, said the initial eight projects would go a long way to improving the health and prosperity of the Gippsland Lakes.

“A report which looked at the economic impact of the 2008 non-toxic algal bloom found it had a direct economic cost of $18 million and more than 300 jobs.  By evaluating the economic and community impact of the 2011/12 Nodularia Algae Bloom and comparing the results with the 2008 bloom, we can identify trends or lessons that can inform future management decisions,” Mr Bull said.

“Likewise, the 2010/11 Dryland Nutrient Reduction Project on the Upper Latrobe Catchment resulted in a dramatic reduction in the amount of superphosphate flowing into the Lakes. As a result, a further five projects surrounding phosphates into the Lakes have been approved by the Committee. “

Mr Ryan said funding for the $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund was drawn from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“Through Regional Development Victoria we are constantly investing in infrastructure and services, while building networks, creating employment and improving necessary facilities and the environment,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting the continued economic development of regional Victoria, including the iconic Gippsland Lakes.”

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said the Coalition Government was getting on with improving the natural environment for all Victorians.

“We're getting on with what we said we would do – cleaning up our waterways and beaches, harvesting stormwater, recycling more waste from landfill, and boosting support to organisations such as Landcare to achieve real environmental benefits Victorians can see,” Mr Smith said.