Landcare $11m cut claims denied

THE Federal Government has denied claims made by Landcare that funding for its volunteer groups was cut by almost $11 million in the Budget.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Tony Burke last night issued a statement that the Budget actually provided funding increases for Landcare and the Caring for our Country program.

He said $36 million was allocated to Landcare and, while not ‘as high as projected’, was still an increase of $1 million.

Mr Burke also said Caring for our Country would get an extra $15 million, and a total of $423 million.

But local Landcare groups yesterday said they believed they would lose $10.9 million over the next four years.

Richmond Landcare Inc committee member, Neville Sloss, said they represented more than 70 groups in the Richmond catchment alone.

“It will be very disappointing and sad if our funding has been cut, but Landcare will always go on because it is based on volunteer work,” he said.

Page MP Janelle Saffin said she had ‘always gone to bat for local groups’ and would continue to do so.

But Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare president, Dr Tony Parkes, said available funding was ‘much less’ than it was three or four years ago.

“It is going to make it very difficult for us here. We have the richest biodiversity in NSW and about the third-richest in Australia,” he said.

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