24 May 2021

Canberrans being asked to shape their environment for the next 20 years

| Michael Weaver
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Croke Place Wetlands Landcare Group members clearing weeds in bush

The Croke Place Wetlands Landcare Group at Evatt is one of many community environment groups in the ACT. Photo: Supplied.

The effects of climate change, agricultural production and water use are among the issues Canberrans are being asked to have their say on as part of a 20-year plan on how the ACT’s natural resources are managed.

The next iteration of the ACT Government’s Natural Resource Management Plan (ACT NRM) from 2021 to 2041 will shape the future of the ACT’s environment by informing policy and spending decisions on the region’s environmental assets such as land, water, soil, plants and animals.

A discussion paper has been produced while a community consultation phase is being facilitated by Landcare ACT.

Landcare ACT CEO Karissa Preuss said three information sessions were held in April where community members and local land carers provided input on a number of conservation issues.

Karissa Preuss, Dr Caroline Wenger and Bruno Ferronato taking water sample at Ginninderra Creek

Landcare ACT CEO Karissa Preuss (left) with Umbagong Landcare Group members Dr Caroline Wenger and Bruno Ferronato taking a water sample at Ginninderra Creek. Photo: Michael Weaver.

“Landcare ACT is facilitating an engagement process that gives the community the opportunity to have meaningful input into future policies and, significantly, spending decisions in the ACT around how the environment is managed,” said Ms Preuss.

“Landcare ACT is working with ACT NRM to consult with the Landcare community on the future management of our environment.

“Landcare volunteers contribute more than $2 million annually towards the ACT’s natural environment in volunteer hours, whether it be as urban land carers, rural land managers, park carers, Aboriginal land managers or citizen scientists.

“Input from these land carers with their extensive knowledge of local environmental issues will be invaluable to the ACT NRM plan.”

The invitation to contribute extends to all ACT residents, including Ngunnawal traditional custodians, rural landholders, community groups, non-government organisations, urban dwellers, universities and local businesses and industry.

CEO of ACT NRM, Frank Garofalow, said the community consultation phase will help guide future spending on the protection of the ACT region’s environmental assets.

“Consultation is a vital part of this plan given how much the community understands and cares about the ACT region’s urban, waterway and conservation environments,” he said.

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The plan’s discussion paper acknowledges how to face the emerging challenges of climate change with the latest scientific data stemming from a severe and prolonged drought and the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires.

The plan also reflects new knowledge, Ngunnawal values and changing community aspirations, and says existing and emerging challenges to protect our natural resources may include how new species may migrate into the ACT to establish new habitats and ecosystems.

Two separate natural resource management plans have been developed for the ACT during the past 20 years. The first plan was launched in 2004 and the most recent plan, Bush Capital Legacy – Plan for Managing the Natural Resources of the ACT, was launched in 2009.

A discussion paper has been released outlining the plan and how people can get involved. Community consultation closes on 28 May. The plan will be finalised for submission to the ACT Government in September before being published in December.

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