Land and water degradation costs Australia approximately $3.5 billion annually and salinity is one of the biggest contributors to this degradation.
It is undoubtedly one of the major environmental issues facing Australia in the new millennium.
In Queensland, we are fortunate not to have the severe land and water degradation issues of southern and western Australia.
Approximately 48,000 hectares of land in Queensland are currently affected by localised outbreaks of dryland salinity, compared to an estimated 2.5 million hectares of land Australia-wide.
However, emerging information indicates that the area affected by dryland salinity in Queensland could rise to 3 million hectares by 2050 under current land use practices.
Queensland has an excellent opportunity to redress the state’s salinity and water quality issues before they get out of hand.
The challenge for Queensland is to prevent salinity degradation of land and water by adopting new and appropriate farming and natural resource management systems.
We have already come a long way in the past few years.
New vegetation management guidelines have been introduced, as have new water laws aimed at improving the security of supply for users, ensuring that future water developments are sustainable and protecting the health of our
rivers and catchments.
The Queensland Government has also committed significant funds and resources to a rural water use efficiency initiative and to thousands of environmental projects through the Natural Heritage Trust.
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) will soon complete a survey of dryland salinity throughout Queensland, which will lead to the compilation of a detailed salinity hazard map for the State.
Once completed, the salinity hazard map will be an invaluable indicative tool for natural resource managers and regional planners.
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