Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
ACT Budget Consultation
Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate
GPO Box 158
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Submission to the ACT budget 2014-15 process
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
In addition to the comments provided on the on-line consultation form, FOG wishes to submit the following recommendations for consideration in the allocation of resources for the implementation of conservation in the ACT:
1. FOG believes that adequate and predictable long-term funding for implementing the strategic plans for weeds and feral pests is imperative if these threats are to be contained. They constitute the biggest threat to the integrity of our remaining natural environment, and the longer they are left untreated the more resources are required to contain them – if they then can be contained.
2. The former Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment wrote two major reports – on the condition of natural grasslands in the ACT and on the condition of Canberra Nature Park, Molonglo River Corridor nature reserves and Googong Foreshores. We believe that resources should be allocated in the budget to ensure recommendations that have been agreed by Government are being implemented. This includes preparation and implementation of operational plans for all Canberra Nature Park nature reserves.
3. Monitoring is an extremely important component of management of conservation resources, to determine whether those resources are being maintained, to ascertain the most efficient means to manage those resources and to apply better management. Budget resources should be provided to manage adequately the conservation resources and to monitor the impacts to improve management. This will also complement monitoring undertaken by volunteer community groups, including Parkcare, throughout the ACT.
4. In the ACT there are remnants with natural values within areas of land that are outside the reserve system. These include open space parks within Canberra (for example, Mt Rogers in Melba, Umbagong Park and North Mitchell), roadsides (particularly in rural ACT but also including some urban roadsides, e.g. Kerrigan Road, Charnwood), and rural properties, many of which contain remnants of endangered box-gum woodland. Resources should be applied to facilitate management for conservation outcomes to these areas. Resources should include allocation of funding to employ people on the ground with expertise in conservation management to provide advice to land managers (and contractors) and assist with implementation of actions on the ground.
5. In 2012 Friends of Grasslands were consulted about the North Gungahlin Strategic Plan. We fully support the approach to strategically conserve and manage natural resources, but have seen no evidence of implementation, including establishment of nature reserves, particularly at Kinlyside north of Hall, to protect valuable Box-Gum Woodland and threatened bird populations. We request that funding be provided to establish and manage the natural resources that are being retained under this plan.
22 October 2013
Comments provided on the on-line consultation form:
Please provide a brief summary of your suggestions, if any, which relate to Budget expenditure, capital priorities, savings measure, revenue raising or other.
1. Adequate and predictable long-term funding for implementing the strategic plans for weeds and feral pests
2. Establishment of an expert bush regeneration team to restore our threatened grassy ecosystems
3. Use of an environmental levy to provide sufficient resourcing for conservation
4. Resources to ensure recommendations on Canberra Nature Park made by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and agreed by Government are implemented
5. Resources to manage adequately conservation areas and to monitor the impacts to improve management
6. Resources to facilitate management for conservation outcomes to areas with natural values that are outside the reserve system
7. Funding to establish and manage the natural resources that are being retained under the North Gungahlin Strategic Plan
8. Combination of the Government’s environmental arms into one directorate
What services do you believe are most important for the Territory?
From FOG’s perspective, conservation of our threatened natural temperate grassland and box-gum grassy woodland areas, and dependent threatened species. In this regard, there are a number of issues that FOG considers important – some are covered in responses to the formal questions, the others are in the attached letter from FOG.
What infrastructure priorities should the Government consider initiating in the next four years?
FOG has argued for some time that an expert bush regeneration team be established to restore our threatened grassy ecosystems and work on biodiversity offset projects (see also attached submission from FOG to the Commissioner of Sustainability and the Environment (CSE), Canberra Nature Park Investigation). While such a team may appear expensive to set up, in fact, once established, it would be an effective initiative as it should deliver real conservation gains. The alternative of using non-experts to attempt such work generally results in, at best, no conservation gains despite considerable expenditure.
How can the Government deliver current services more efficiently and productively? (having particular regard to any expenditure suggestions you may have made above)
We believe that there are many instances where the separation of units within government with environmental responsibilities has led to poor outcomes and practices. We encourage government to combine the environmental arms into one directorate under one director, to ensure that planning, policy, research, monitoring and implementation of management actions are strategic, effective and efficient.
Are there any new ways to generate revenue and/or services you consider that the community should make a direct contribution to (a fee for service)?
FOG’s view is that the concept of an environmental levy, as raised in the CSE’s investigation of Canberra Nature Park, should be explored as an avenue to provide sufficient resourcing to improve and maintain our valuable nature reserves and conservation areas (again see attached submission to the CSE on the Canberra Nature Park Investigation).
Could the Government stop providing particular services? (having particular regard to any expenditure suggestions you may have made above)
Money from biodiversity offsets, if used effectively, can improve the conservation values of offset sites. However, there is a real danger that such monies will take the place of existing government funding to contain weeds and otherwise maintain existing reserves and offset sites. As offset funding is limited in scope, it should never take the place of recurrent funding, but instead be used to improve the values of our natural heritage.