Environment and tourism stimulus announcement highlights opportunity to support regional economic recovery through practical conservation work

1 October 2020

The Pew Charitable Trusts, National Landcare Network and NRM Regions Australia have welcomed today’s announcement that the Federal Government will invest $61.7 million in practical conservation work and tourism infrastructure to support regional economic recovery. 

“This investment highlights the opportunity for investment in practical conservation work to support regional economic recovery, while leaving lasting benefits for the environment, local communities and nature-based tourism industries,” said Pepe Clarke, Deputy Director, Pew Charitable Trusts. 

The funding, announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, includes:

  • $20 million for restoration of shellfish reefs in 11 coastal communities
  • $3.2 million to engage Great Barrier Reef tourism operators in reef monitoring
  • $5 million to upgrade Australia’s largest coral reef aquarium, Reef HQ in Townsville
  • $33.5 million for visitor infrastructure across 23 national heritage and World Heritage sites.

The Federal Government estimates that this investment will create 1,000 jobs in regional communities.

“Restoration of shellfish reefs will deliver benefits for hard hit coastal communities, including employment for unskilled workers, improved fish stocks, better water quality and new opportunities for dive tourism,” said Mr Clarke. 

“Engaging tourism operators in marine monitoring activities on the Great Barrier Reef will provide a much needed boost for hard hit local businesses and present a great opportunity for tour operators to contribute to the long-term reef protection efforts.” 

More than 70 conservation and farming organisations have been working to highlight the opportunity for federal and state investment in conservation and land management work to deliver practical, hands-on work in regional communities, as part of broader COVID-19 economic recovery measures. 

“We welcome the Morrison Government’s announcement of this funding and encourage them to make further investment in protecting, restoring and managing our natural assets,”said Kate Andrews, CEO, NRM Regions Australia.

“Large scale investment in conservation and land management would provide much needed work for young people and unskilled workers impacted by the current economic crisis, while building social connections and resilience in hard hit regional communities,” said Jim Adams, Chief Executive Officer, National Landcare Network. 

Notes for editors

  • Economic analysis by Ernst & Young found that a $4 billion national conservation and land management employment program would create 53,000 jobs, reduce welfare costs by $620 million and raise economic output by $5.7 billion over the next four years, with economic gains rising to $9.3 billion over the next 20 years. 
  • Recent polling conducted by Dynata and commissioned by the National Landcare Network shows that more than four in five Australians (83%) think the Morrison Government should fund practical environmental initiatives like tree planting, weed removal and river restoration to keep people in regional communities employed while Australia recovers from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Funding practical environmental work came in as the second most popular (75% support) out of 12 options for keeping people in regional communities employed, second only to increasing funding for training and apprenticeships (78%).
  • The polling also found that three quarters (76%) of Australians are concerned about the health of the country’s forests, rivers and wildlife, with a similar number (74%) agreeing that economic stimulus funding should be used to help communities and the environment recover from the bushfires and drought.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an international research and policy organisation that works in Australia to promote conservation and sustainable management of remote landscapes and the marine environment. 

The National Landcare Network is the representative body for Landcare groups across Australia and works to provide a voice for Landcare at the national level.

NRM Regions Australia represents and supports Australia’s 56 regional natural resource management (NRM) bodies at the national level.