The Federal Budget was handed down with relatively little pomp or fanfare over the ‘Environment and Natural Resource’ areas in budget highlight news. Little surprise, as ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’ receive a relatively small portion of the whole $464.26 billion budget, with $2.97 billion over 7 years. Of that $2.97 billion, a healthy $1.1 billion will be spent in the ‘Natural Resources Development’ area, of which $100 million came through from the Coalition’s deal with the Greens to get its backpacker tax legislation through the Parliament late last year.

For a visual of the budget breakdown, I highly recommend the ABCs ‘sliced and diced’ interactive infographic, available HERE.

Though details are still very preliminary, it looks like that $1.1 billion will be distributed a few different ways. First, the $100 million Greens deal funding will be divided up over the next 7 years as:
  • $15 million to Indigenous Protected Areas
  • $85 million for sustainable agriculture and on-ground activity in small grants available directly to community groups (that’s about $12 million per year across the country)
The remaining $1 billion will be used to continue the National Landcare Program (NLP) and will be divided into the following two general streams. The Green Army program has been cancelled and funds reallocated to this $1 billion pool.
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Regional Delivery
Details on the delivery and roll-out of this funding have not been released yet, though some specific commitments to invasive species management have been highlighted. Depending on the proportions divvied out between these two streams, the Regional Delivery stream could mean a similar level of funding to previous years will continue to flow through to smaller regional Landcare groups, such as our own, through the Natural Resource Management (NRM) regional bodies. Currently Katanning has an NLP funded project through South West Catchments Council (SWCC) that has provided funds for thousands of trees, fences and nest boxes for us to enhance and protect natural habitat for the red-tailed phascogale here in Katanning, and we hope this kind of work can continue into the future. Over the next few months we will be working closely with SWCC on its investment plan to ensure that national targets and local needs are met through a variety of projects to ensure that we are prepared for the roll-out of the federal funding. Though we can’t be sure of the end result, we are thankful that there were no further cuts to the Landcare budget and given this challenging funding climate, it’s a great result for Landcare across Australia, and for the environment as well.

Barnaby Joyce’s Media Release on the benefits of the Landcare funding can be found HERE.