Steve Burgess by the Mary River in Kandanga.
Steve Burgess by the Mary River in Kandanga. Renee Pilcher

Millions to help Mary

THE Mary River Catchment Co-ordinating Committee hopes to turn a big $2.5 million federal grant into a real "mother of millions" for the Mary Valley.

But their efforts have nothing to do with the declared pest of the same name.

MRCCC worker Steve Burgess says the committee hopes to multiply the benefits of the grant, by co-operating with landowners to repair the Valley's creek and riverbanks.

"We have a project for six years, with funding of $2.5 million for us to put in original work to repair riparian areas in the Valley," he said.

"But working with landholders, we will try to leverage this money, encouraging private owners to take part in improvements on their properties.

"We see this as the main anchor for the Threatened Species Recovery Plan.

"We can come up with plans to help people carry out projects of benefit.

"For example, if a landowner wants to control grazing animals and fence off part of the river bank, we can advise on this and if they can put some money in, we will match it.

"The work of that $2.5 million should be able to leverage to be $5 million."

Benefits to the community also will be greater even than the leveraged amount spent by the committee and its private partners.

Mr Burgess says he expects the money will cycle through the community, with flow-on effects to other businesses and the area generally.

The grant gives the Valley a chance to obtain a healthy financial injection.

"We get nurseries producing plants for the project and relevant biocontrol businesses would be able to plan for a bit," he said.

"We want to encourage good land management and attitudes and develop expertise."

The money comes from a distribution of carbon tax revenue and is part of a Biodiversity Fund which has been given six years to spend $946 million "to support landholders to undertake projects that establish, restore, protect or manage biodiverse carbon stores."

The fund also aims to "improve the resilience of Australia's unique species to the impacts of climate change, enhance the environmental outcomes of carbon farming projects and help landholders protect carbon and biodiversity values on their land."

The fund is supervised by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke. Mr Burgess says one success story of species recovery is that of the Mary River cod, a story depicted in the co-operatively produced DVD Once an Endangered Species.

Gympie Times


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