The federal government is spruiking a new round of Landcare grants after cutting $500 million from the Caring for Country program in the federal budget.
Caring for Country funded Landcare, but it was merged with the National Heritage Trust to create the National Landcare Program.
The funding cuts and merger left many groups wondering if they could continue their work.
But at the 2014 National Landcare Conference held last week, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce launched the 25th Anniversary Landcare Grants 2014-15.
Mr Hunt said $90 million would be available over four years to fund small, on-ground environmental projects.
Page MP Kevin Hogan has urged local groups to apply for funding.
He said that grants of up to $20,000 would be available to support local Landcare groups to protect the local environment and look after the land.
“We are looking to harness the expertise and enthusiasm of not just Landcare groups but the natural resource management community, Indigenous communities, farmers, fishers and other land and sea managers in Page.
“Applications are now open and close on 20 October, so I encourage our local natural resource management community to come up with great ideas that will help protect our land and natural assets, and to get involved by getting their applications in,’ Mr Hogan said.
The news comes as a relief to Landcare groups, which were left worrying that there would be no funding for their work following the cuts in the budget.
But Mr Hunt said there would be all up $90 million over the next four years available directly for small grant allocation.
‘Previously the small grants were on average a little over $10 million a year, now they’ll be on average a little over $20 million a year, he said.
Meanwhile, it was also announced that Landcare activities would be included in the school curriculum under a new program, by Landcare Australia and the Primary Industries Education Foundation.
The program, launched during Landcare’s annual conference last week, will initially be aimed at primary school students in rural and metropolitan areas.
The foundation’s Ben Stockwin says it would help improve students’ understanding of where food comes from.
Landcare Australia’s chief executive officer Tessa Jakszewicz said it was important for the organisation to connect with young people.
‘The young people are the carers of our land in the future, so we need to encourage those children to get an understanding about the land, whether they live in the city, whether they live in the bush, it’s important for all children both to understand where there food comes from and to understand the importance of caring for our environment,’ Ms Jakszewicz said.