Continuation of Reef Rescue welcomed by award winning farmers

Farmers and graziers working to improve land management practices in the Great Barrier Reef water catchment areas were last night recognised for their efforts during the inaugural Reef Rescue awards held in Cairns.

Presented by the Queensland Regional NRM Groups Collective and the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, the farmers and graziers receiving the top awards represent just a handful of those working hard to reduce the environmental impact on and potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

“Reef Rescue has over achieved on a number of targets and the caliber of the Reef Rescue award nominees and winners is a further testament to the success of the program,” Chair Queensland Regional NRM Groups Collective, Mike Berwick, said.

“Last months announcement by the Australian Government, of a further $200 million Reef Rescue funding over a five year period could not have come at a better time. As we take stock of the outcomes and achievements of the first five years of the program, it is essential that we capitalise on the good-will and partnerships that have been established.”

The 2013 Reef Rescue Impact Statement – released at the awards last night – shows that the program has achieved over 177% of the five-year farmer engagement target and 170% of the grazing industry target.

“With such high engagement numbers it is not surprising that farmers, industry groups and regional natural resource management groups have welcomed the continuation of the successful program.”

“The release of the 2013 Impact Statement substantiates what the program has achieved so far, reef health report cards are showing that average annual pollutant loads entering the reef have already been reduced,” said Mike.

Farmers receiving Reef Rescue awards last night have recognise that the improvements on their properties have not only had significant environmental outcomes but also helped improve their bottom line. In an industry with notoriously tight margins, Reef Rescue funding has helped make it affordable for farmers to make desired management changes that may not have been otherwise possible.

“The fact that for every dollar of funding received, $1.57 has been invested locally shows the commitment of the land managers to the program.”

“Participants may be enjoying the benefits of reduced input costs and improved water quality on farm, but they are also making a personal contribution to improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef catchment as a whole,” Mike said.

Six Regional Natural Resource Management Groups and three Industry Groups are partners in Reef Rescue. These organisations are: Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management, Cape York Sustainable Futures, CANEGROWERS, Growcom, Queensland Dairyfarmer’s Organisation, NQ Dry Tropics, Terrain NRM, Reef Catchments Mackay-Whitsunday and Fitzroy Basin Association.

Read the 2013 Reef Rescue Impact Statement here.