Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Successful applicants announced for CORE 4

THE West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority has received a fantastic response to its CORE 4 program, with all submissions received and evaluated.

Fundedthrough the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country program and workingwith upper Latrobe Catchment dairy farmers, CORE 4 has been well received by the dairying industry as well as local contractors, consultants and the local community.

In a first for the WGCMA, the program offered dairy farmers between Warragul and Glengarry and from Neerim East to Boolarra the opportunity to seek Australian Government funding to carry out on-farm improvements that will help retain nutrient and sediment run-off.

The dairy industry and local dairy farmers have shown their support for the program and the successful applicants have been announced.  CORE 4 mentor and agricultural consultant John Gallienne has been impressed with the response from the local dairy industry and with the enthusiasm shown by farmers to make changes to on-farm practices for the overall benefit of the Gippsland Lakes.

Mr Gallienne said the CMA had chosen to work with the dairying industry due to its extensive network of agencies such as GippsDairy as well as the strong network between dairy farmers and service providers.

Mr Gallienne said with 58 applications received for the program, the response from the local dairy industry had not only been greater than expected but all applications had been of a high standard.

He said following an independent evaluation, 42 of the applications had received funding based on pre-determined criteria.

The results have impressed GippsDairy, which has supported the program from its inception due to the long term benefits it will produce for Gippsland’s dairy community, waterways and in particular, the Gippsland Lakes.
Mr Gallienne said the next stage would see landholders, including those who had been unsuccessful in their applications contacted by Ag Challenge Consulting to discuss the result of their submissions.

“It’s been wonderful to see the local dairying industry take such a proactive approach to natural resource management,” Mr Gallienne said.  “The local dairy industry is clearly showing leadership in environmental awareness through its support of the CORE 4 project.

 “By retaining nutrients and sediment on-farm, we’re not only improving and protecting the long-term health of the Gippsland Lakes, the farmers can see the benefits on their farms too.

“As part of the CORE ideology of Rebalance; Recover; Retain and Restore, the project aims to rebalance nutrient applications across the farm as well as recover and reuse these nutrients. It will also see participating farms retain sediment and nutrients and restore the health of local wetlands, waterways and the Gippsland Lakes.”

Meanwhile, WGCMA Chief Executive Officer Martin Fuller said CORE 4 was likely to produce some excellent outcomes. “With the Gippsland Lakes internationally renowned as a Ramsar- listed wetland, it is critical that we ensure water quality is enhanced through initiatives such as CORE 4,” Mr Fuller said.

“Reducing the amount of nutrient run-off from farms into our local waterways in the West Gippsland area will go a very long way to improving the health of the Gippsland Lakes. The lakes are where these waterways end up and where phosphorous levels in particular have contributed to recent algal blooms.”

Mr Fuller said these blooms had had a massive impact on the local ecosystem as well as on the local economy, where it’s estimated more than $18 million was lost in the 2008 bloom through reduced tourist activity, accommodation and business turnover.

He said reducing the nutrient loads in the waterways would see the Gippsland Lakes better placed to cope with flushings in the systems such as those seen recently from flooding in the Thomson and Latrobe Rivers.

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