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Qld remote sensing program uses satellite imagery to monitor natural environment; maps extent and spread of weeds

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

A new program would use satellite imagery linked to ground work to help researchers observe, map and understand changes to Queensland’s environment, announced Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Water C A Wallace in the Queensland Parliament on 23 August 2007.

Water quality and spread of weeds: “The Queensland government is committed to looking after the state’s vast land, vegetation and water resources,” Wallace said. “Remote sensing technology is a key tool in our approach to sustainable resource management. Today I am pleased to announce that the Department of Natural Resources and Water and the University of Queensland have joined forces to create the most advanced remote sensing program of its kind in Australia. The program has been designed to more effectively monitor the state’s natural environment. The new program will use satellite imagery linked to ground work to help researchers observe, map and understand changes to Queensland’s environment, including water quality and the spread of weeds.”

Two projects: ” Scientists from my department and UQ, as well as students from UQ’s Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Science, will take part in the program, which will be based at UQ’s St Lucia campus,” the Minister said. “Researchers will use high-resolution satellite imagery to assess and monitor wildlife habitats and vegetation that filter and improve water quality. Another project will use state-of-the-art satellite sensors to map the extent and spread of weeds such as prickly acacia, rubber vine and lantana. This research will link closely with the government’s Blueprint for the Bush program.”

Joint project covers most of east coast: “This innovative partnership will create a hub of expertise for research using remote sensing by sharing technical expertise, resources and training opportunities,” said Wallace. “The Department of Natural Resources and Water has used remote sensing for years to assist in the use of monitoring land clearing. Under this new program, the Department of Natural Resources and Water will join its resources with UQ, which is recognised as a national and international leader in remote-sensing education and research. The agreement will bring together skilled researchers, major computing capacity and data covering most of Australia’s east coast. This partnership is another example of the Smart State teaming up with our top universities so Queensland can lead the country in research and development.”

Reference: CA Wallace, Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland, Member for Thuringowa, Records of Proceedings, First session of the Fifty-Second Parliament, Queensland, 23 August 2007.

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Posted in Australia, Forest, Hansard, Policy, Queensland, Species | Leave a Comment »

Qld Bill removes cap on Local Government fees for environmentally relevant activities; endangered plant collecting penalties overhauled

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

Local councils would have powers to enforce environmental regulations, including those protecting threatened native plant species, said Queensland’s Minister for Environment L H Nelson-Carr in the Queensland Parliament on 23 August 2007.

Councils will have access to EPA tools: “Most of these changes will happen with the remake of the Environmental Protection Regulation 1998 in 2008,” the Minister said. “However, to help Local Governments with their responsibilities, councils will be provided with access to all the relevant enforcement tools under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 so that they are well equipped to deal with nuisance matters arising from activities that have not been adequately conditioned under their existing approval.”

Councils able to recover costs: “The amendments in the Bill will allow Local Governments to set their own fees for the environmentally relevant activities they administer,” said Nelson-Carr. “Currently, Local Government fees for environmental activities are capped. This cap unfairly limits councils’ abilities to set fees to cover the costs of monitoring these activities. Councils will now be able to set their licence fees for certain environmental activities.”

Penalties to fit the crime: “The second change introduces tiered penalties for offences relating to protected plants to make it clearer that the punishment should fit the crime. At present, offences relating to the taking and use of protected plants under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 can only be pursued on indictment, which means that even the most minor offences lead to a defendant facing a maximum penalty that includes the possibility of imprisonment,” said the Minister. “This is a costly way to deal with minor offences and means that action is often not taken. Queensland has the greatest variety of native plant groups in Australia, with more than 8,000 species of flowering plants, gymnosperms and ferns. About 13 percent of Queensland’s native plant species are protected plants. These plants are in danger of extinction in the next 10 to 50 years unless action is taken to reverse their decline. Apart from vegetation clearing, plant collecting is the greatest threat to many types of protected plant. Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994, the harvesting and sale of native plants and plant parts are closely regulated. Consequently, there is a public expectation that enforcement action will be taken for the most serious offences relating to illegal damage or removal of these plants.”

Better guidance on penalties: “Introducing tiered penalties for the protected plant offences will improve practical enforcement of these offences by separating the offences into different classes that carry relative penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence,” Nelson-Carr said. “The maximum penalty for the most serious offences has not changed. For less serious offences, such as just taking one or two vulnerable plants, the maximum penalty will be lower. This will provide courts and defendants with better guidance about the appropriate level of fine.”

Reference: LH Nelson-Carr, Minister for Environment and Multiculturalism, Mundingburra, Australian Labor Party, Records of Proceedings, First session of the Fifty-Second Parliament, Queensland, 23 August 2007.

Posted in Australia, Forest, Hansard, Law, Policy, Queensland, Regulation, Species | Leave a Comment »

WA state government and Local Government Association form new climate partnership

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

The state government and local government had entered a major partnership agreement focusing on climate change and sustainability issues, announced Western Australian Minister for the Environment David Templeman in the Legislative Assembly on 14 August 2007.

Joint action on climate change and sustainability: “At the WA Local Government Association convention on 6 August 2007,” the Minister said, “I signed the agreement on behalf of the state government, along with Bill Mitchell, president of the Western Australian Local Government Association, and Eric Lumsden, president of Local Government Managers Australia. This groundbreaking agreement, which has been developed in very close collaboration with WALGA on behalf of local government, aims to ensure closer communication, collaboration and joint action on a diverse range of climate change and sustainability matters that are of mutual interest and concern to both spheres of government.”

Local government achievements recognised: “The agreement reflects the spirit and substance of the peak partnership agreements signed in 2002 and 2004,” Templeman said, “which foster cooperation and communication between the state government and local government. It also complements the Premier’s climate change action statement released in May of this year. The agreement is an indication of the importance the Carpenter government attaches to collectively addressing the wide spectrum of matters on the sustainability agenda, with a particular focus on the increasingly critical issue of climate change. Local government is to be congratulated on its achievements to date in addressing sustainability in the areas of waste management, biodiversity protection, natural resource management, energy and water conservation, community health, housing and other infrastructure development.”

New council to meet twice a year: “The new agreement signals a commitment by the Carpenter government to take a more significant leadership role in encouraging and facilitating further policy and best practice,” the Minister said. “Under the agreement a state-local government climate change and sustainability council will be formed, with high-level representation from state and local government. I will chair this body, which will meet twice a year to address strategic directions. It will provide the opportunity for significant matters to be considered at the highest levels of state and local government and for joint policies and actions to be developed and implemented.”

Reference: Mr David A. Templeman, Minister for the Environment, Member for Mandurah, ALP, Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, Hansard, 14 August 2007. A copy of these proceedings can be accessed at
http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au

Posted in Australia, Hansard, Policy, Western Australia | Leave a Comment »