13/01/2020 - 14:31

$50m pledged in wildlife funding

13/01/2020 - 14:31

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The federal government has announced a $50 million emergency fund to address the loss of wildlife during the nation’s bushfire season, as more Australian businesses have pledged millions in combined donations.

Josh Frydenberg says the investment will create a viable future for Australian wildlife.

The federal government has announced a $50 million emergency fund to address the loss of wildlife during the nation’s bushfire season, as more Australian businesses have pledged millions in combined donations.

The federal funding comprises a $25 million emergency intervention fund to help with the immediate survival of affected animals, plants and ecological communities and a $25 million donation to environmental groups.

This includes $5 million going towards Greening Australia for revegetation initiatives, $3 million for zoos to treat injured animals and $2.5 million for Conservation Volunteers Australia to mobilise volunteers assisting with recovery efforts.

The funding will be drawn from the $2 billion bushfire relief fund announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, which also includes $1 million base payments for 42 affected communities in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

More than one billion animals are estimated to have been killed during the fires, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the “initial investment” of $50 million would create a viable future for animals that survived.

“This support will help provide much needed shelter and protection for our native animals and plants from feral predators and pests while local habitats are rehabilitated,” Mr Frydenberg said.

As part of the investment, Threatened Species Commissioner Sally Box will chair a panel of experts, which will include representatives from CSIRO and Zoos Victoria, to develop a long-term wildlife protection and habitat restoration plan.

The panel will advise environment minister Sussan Ley on further critical interventions required and assess the scale of impacts of the bushfires on the environment.

Ms Ley said it was still too early to know the full impact of the fires.

“This is an historic environmental challenge and we need to be guided by scientific experts in the field, by our national research bodies, the traditional owners who have managed this land over tens of thousands of years, our farmers whose passion and commitment to the land spans generations and our local communities,” she said.

The environmental recovery effort complements a string of private donations, including a $70 million bushfire response from Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, announced last week.

Today, gold miner Evolution Mining announced it would donate $1.5 million to Rural Aid Australia and $750,000 each to the NSW and Queensland rural fire services.

Rural Aid spokesman Wayne Thomson said the donations would help the organisation deliver much needed support to farmers as well as their families and communities.

Inpex Australia also announced it would support bushfire relief efforts with a $1 million donation to the Red Cross’ disaster relief fund.

Further, the company said it would match staff donations up to $100,000.

Lasr week, iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group, chaired by Mr Forrest, pledged a $1 million donation to Minderoo’s $50 million Fire Fund.

BHP also announced a $2 million donation via the Red Cross disaster relief while Rio Tinto, Chevron and South32 each said they planned to donate $1 million.

A vast number of Australian businesses have pledged multi-million dollar donations, including from National Australia Bank and James Packer’s Crown Resorts, each having contributed $5 million in relief funding.

Coles and Woolworths have contributed $3 million and $1 million respectively, while ANZ Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Macquarie Bank, Qantas and Shell have each contributed $1 million.

The ASX today announced a $500,000 donation to the Red Cross in addition to the $20,000 it made to the Salvation Army's disaster relief fund and the NSW Rural Fire Service in November last year.

ASX managing director Dominic Stevens said corporate Australia plays a critical role in supporting the nationwide recovery effort.

“Rebuilding devastated communities, businesses, wildlife and infrastructure will require a sustained long-term commitment,” Mr Stevens said.

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