Victoria’s fragile riversides risk being devastated by climate change if a newly elected government does not commit to extended funding for the Regional Riparian Action Plan, said Environment Victoria today.
The Regional Riparian Action Plan has helped farmers and land managers to install riverbank fences to keep stock from damaging river ecosystems and plant native vegetation to restore habitat and replace invasive weeds. The plan has so far been successful in climate proofing 2300km of Victoria’s riversides.
Under the Andrews government, the Regional Riparian Action Plan has funding until mid-2020, but both major parties are yet to commit to the essential increase in funding to tackle the scale of climate change impacts.
“Restoring native vegetation along 2300km of Victoria’s riversides is one of our state’s environmental success stories of the last four years, it should not be overlooked,” said Juliet Le Feuvre, Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers campaigner.
“The threat of climate change and increasing drought means we urgently need a commitment from all sides of politics to continue the success of this critical program.
“Healthy riversides are incredibly important for both farmers and the animals that call the river home. They provide crucial habitat for native wildlife, make livestock management easier by keeping cattle out of rivers, and enhance property values.
“Over the past three the years, the riverside restoration program has restored almost 2600km of riverside, well ahead of schedule. That’s equivalent to the distance between Melbourne and Alice Springs.
“As the climate gets hotter, healthy riverbanks will only become more important. The trees on the riverbank provide shade to help keep the water cool, while the roots of trees minimise erosion caused by heavy rain and flooding, which will become more intense as the climate warms. Restoring vegetation can save millions of dollars in flood damage.
“Restoring riversides is a true win-win. It provides an insurance policy against the worst impacts of climate change while delivering cleaner water, healthier ecosystems and creates hundreds of jobs in regional Victoria.
“There are still tens of thousands of kilometers of rivers that are in desperate need of restoration. Investing $60 million would mean we can protect and rehabilitate 6000km of priority riverbanks.
“We’ve already accomplished so much in such a short period of time another $60 million is what is needed to finish the job.
“Together with farmers across Victoria, we’re calling on all sides of politics to step up and commit to investing $60 million over four years to improve the health of our rivers and to support local farmers,” said Ms Le Feuvre.
Juliet Le Feuvre, Healthy Rivers Campaigner
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