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A word from the executive director.

Right now, Australian leaders are facing the need for some clear decisions over the environment.

The Murray River is a national treasure that we need to protect not only for the web of life it supports but for tourism, fishing and healthy water supplies. It is crucial that the Commonwealth and Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia work together to return at least 12.5 per cent (1,500 gigalitres) of the water that is diverted from the river over 10 years. We need to do this in an equitable way, and to work with farming communities to improve the efficiency and sustainability of Australian agriculture.

The degraded state of the Murray River should allow us to learn from our mistakes when it comes to the relatively untouched north of our country. However a stock take of Australia's wildlife prepared for the Federal Government this year found that northern Australia, previously thought to be a refuge for wildlife, is now increasingly under threat with more mammals threatened than ever before. Land clearing was named the chief culprit, providing a clear course of action for governments to arrest our growing extinction crisis. The New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments have recently announced a decision that will stop the clearing of remnant bushland. The same is now urgently needed for Queensland.

When it comes to our towns and cities, new schemes to encourage sustainable residential housing, announced by the Victorian and New South Wales Governments, are promising. However the commercial building sector is the fastest growing generator of greenhouse pollution, contributing 35 million tonnes each year. And businesses are still crying out for government leadership to bring Australia into the international markets to be set up under Kyoto and to support the renewable energy industry, one of the fastest growing job generators.

These three conservation themes--the Murray Darling River system, northern Australia, and sustainability and climate change--are urgent priorities for the nation and central to ACF's conservation efforts. We face unprecedented challenges and opportunities to restore Australia's great inland river system to health, to look after the unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Northern Australia without repeating the mistakes of the south, and to help put Australia on a path to sustainability by seriously tackling climate change.

Finally, I'd like to join with ACF councillors and staff in wishing you all the best for the year ahead and in expressing our sincere thanks for your continued commitment to ACF.

Don Henry Executive Director
COPYRIGHT 2003 Australian Conservation Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:green Views
Author:Henry, Don
Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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