Lake Macquarie Landcare groups vow to survive federal budget cuts

Chairman of the Hunter Region Landcare Network John Hughson at the Landcare Resource Centre at Teralba.

Chairman of the Hunter Region Landcare Network John Hughson at the Landcare Resource Centre at Teralba.

LAKE Macquarie Landcare groups have vowed they will survive despite massive changes announced to their budget and structure.

Last week the federal government announced it would merge Landcare and the rural landscape program Caring for Country into a single National Landcare Program, and cut funding for the program by $483 million over the next five years.

Although the National Landcare Program has been allocated $1 billion in the budget, $483 million earmarked for future grassroots grants has been lost.

There are more 300 Landcare groups across Lake Macquarie alone with more than 2000 volunteers.

Hunter Region Landcare Network chairman John Hughson said details on how the new changes would work had been scarce.

But he said Lake Macquarie City Council had been a big supporter of Landcare in the past and would work with them to continue projects.

"Landcare is an avenue for the community to get involved in national resource management," he said.

"We're all about engaging people and enabling them to play a role. It doesn't matter if they live near the beach, the rainforest, a creek, a corridor, bushland or a reserve.

"They [the federal government] are not doing anyone any service by cutting it short. For every dollar you invest in Landcare you get $10 out of it," he said.

"We've been around for 25 years and we're still going. Landcare is disappointed but we're in it for the long haul.

"We might not be able to do as much as we have in the past, but we'll still be here."

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