EIGHT new projects to be funded through the State Government’s $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund should boost the environmental health of the Gippsland Lakes.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan yesterday said the government and local community had a vested interest in improving the health of the Gippsland Lakes.
“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,” he 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 decision-making on developments within the Lakes region.
“The committee, led by chairperson Dr Peter Veenker, is a broad-based group with people experienced in the fields of environmental science, tourism and recreation, business and management, strategy and planning, and environment and conservation,” he said.
The first eight projects to be approved by the committee are:
• 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); and
• Monitoring the environment health of the Gippsland Lakes ($126,000).
Gippsland East MLA 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 in 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.”