Healthy Land and Water joins call for $4 billion investment in jobs-rich conservation and land management programs

Healthy Land and Water has joined with more than 70 natural resource management, farming and conservation organisations to propose a combined federal and state $4billion economic stimulus package for the land management and conservation sector.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister and Premiers, a proposal was outlined which would provide jobs for 24,000 workers to undertake practical land management and conservation activities across Australia such as pest and weed management, river and coastal habitat restoration, marine debris management and bushfire recovery and resilience.

The organisations say that investment in a jobs-rich conservation and land management program could be part of the bridge to recovery for Australia as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

With over 1 million people predicted to be out of work in the coming months, the sector has the capacity to provide recently unemployed people with safe, meaningful and socially beneficial work, while leaving enduring benefits for the environment, tourism and farm businesses.

The organisations have been engaging closely with federal and state policy makers and say that developing this package early will allow for good program design and the opportunity to learn the lessons of past programs.

If funding is committed, then projects can be developed, partnerships formed and positions advertised, so that the program can hit the ground running as social distancing measures are eased.

The jobs would be appropriate for temporarily repurposing existing workforces which are under pressure, including tradespeople and workers in the tourism and small business sectors.  It would also have significant economic multipliers, especially in regional communities, with work generated for local suppliers and hospitality businesses.

Healthy Land and Water CEO, Julie McLellan said the investment in land management and conservation jobs could benefit many of those who have been rendered jobless as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while leaving lasting benefits for the environment.

“If state and federal governments support this proposal, it will reduce unemployment, build capacity, and improve the resilience of our natural environment, not only here in South East Queensland but across the nation.”

“In these challenging times, we want to play our part in providing practical, meaningful work for those that need it.”

“The road to recovery will be a long one, which will require each sector of society to contribute in its own way.”

Practical conservation activities that could be undertaken across public and private land include:

  • a surge in weed control efforts, focused on containment and preventing cross-tenure spread
  • river and wetland restoration, including fencing, revegetation and erosion control
  • national park infrastructure, track maintenance and park management (fire, weeds, feral animals)
  • bushfire recovery and resilience activities, including infrastructure repairs and habitat restoration
  • invasive animal control, including deer and pigs which impact on farming and threatened species
  • tree planting and habitat restoration in metropolitan, suburban, peri-urban and rural areas
  • funding for private land conservation, putting money in the hands of farmers and other land managers
  • coastal habitat restoration and monitoring, in partnership with the fishing industry and local communities
  • plastics and marine debris clean up, including research to inform future policy decisions and
  • funding for Indigenous rangers to deliver jobs directly to vulnerable communities using a proven model.

Read the Open Letter here.

Read the Briefing Note here.

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