Hindmarsh Landcare Network suffers from funding cuts

HINDMARSH Landcare Network has dipped into its savings to help pay for its flagship event.

Project Hindmarsh has been running for 17 years.

Hindmarsh Landcare Network local landcare facilitator Steve Hemphill said the tree-planting weekend boosted the shire’s economy by more than $150,000 a year.

He expects more than 200 people will help plant 15,000 trees on a site north of Lake Hindmarsh, near Rainbow, on August 16 and 17.

More than 1500 hectares have been successfully revegetated since the project started.

“Project Hindmarsh is the key reason both Hindmarsh Landcare Network and Hindmarsh Shire Council have been recognised as leaders in the field of large-scale landscape revegetation,” Mr Hemphill said.

But this year, grants that the group had traditionally relied on to host the event dried up.

“There has been a drastic change in the amount of funding available,” Mr Hemphill said.

“We are actually having to dip into some of our own bucket to finance Project Hindmarsh.

“We can’t do that every year.”

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority provided more than $8000 to run this year’s event.

Mr Hemphill said Hindmarsh Landcare Network would have received almost triple that sum last year.

Most of the project’s funding comes from Wimmera CMA, which administers the State Government’s Victorian Landcare grants.

The cost of trees alone is about $30,000.

Hindmarsh Shire Council heard during a Hindmarsh Landcare Network delegation at its May meeting the event’s running costs could equate to a further $30,000.

Mr Hemphill said Wimmera businesses had been generous with their support.

“We get a grant from ACE Radio to help fund the event,” he said.

Hindmarsh Shire Council contributed $50,000 towards Hindmarsh Landcare Network this financial year.

It has allocated a further $35,000 in its draft budget for the next financial year.

“But we have really got to rely on the state and federal governments to come to the party and continue putting money into their environmental programs,” Mr Hemphill said.

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