In one go, we can help reduce unemployment AND restore bushfire-damaged ecosystems.
In 2020, Victoria is facing two huge crises. First, summer bushfires decimated ecosystems and communities. Now, the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has left thousands of Victorians out of work. The Victorian Greens are calling for two new initiatives, a BushCare Jobs Blitz and Plant 10 Million Trees Program, as part of a Green New Deal for Victoria. These programs can create thousands of new jobs restoring ecosystems and building green, healthy cities.
- The summer’s bushfires devastated Victoria’s ecosystems and communities. 1.4 million hectares burned, destroying more than half of the habitat for 185 rare and threatened Victorian animals, plants and other creatures.
- The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to double unemployment in Victoria to 11%, with 270,000 jobs lost. Young people, the hospitality, events and tourism industries, and regional Victoria have been hardest hit.
- The Andrews Labor Government has set aside $24 billion for COVID-19 recovery.
- An all-out BushCare Blitz to restore Victoria’s fire-damaged areas and plant 10 million trees across Victoria could create 11,000 new jobs at a cost of $200 million per year over the next 10 years.
Victoria is facing two crises: communities and ecosystems ravaged by the summer’s bushfires, and now the economic fallout from COVID-19. We can help solve these two problems together, with a program to restore bushfire-destroyed ecosystems, creating thousands of jobs, putting money into regional communities and helping our environment recover from the bushfires.
- A huge program of removing weeds and introduced animals across Victoria, creating 5,500 new jobs and costing $850 million over 10 years
- Expanding roll-out of river fencing to keep stock out, creating 350 new jobs and costing $100 million over 10 years
- A funding boost for research into ecosystem protection, creating 150 new jobs and costing $50 million over 10 years
Turbo-charge weed and invasive species eradication
Our national parks and ecosystems are overrun with weeds and invasive species, which are driving our native animals to extinction. Our precious animals and plants are particularly at risk just after bushfires, as weeds move into sensitive areas quickly.
Parks Victoria urgently needs additional funding and more staff to get on top of Victoria’s weeds and invasive species.
This initiative will expand Parks Victoria’s permanent workforce with senior level skilled positions, and will dramatically expand their seasonal on-the-ground workforce, including with younger workers who have been hardest hit by unemployment due to the pandemic.
Fencing rivers to keep stock out
Healthy streams and rivers are the life-blood of our ecosystems and communities, but unfortunately, cattle can get in and erode riverbanks, bring in weeds, damage our rivers, and impact water quality.
Since 2015, the Victorian Government has been running a highly successful program of fencing off rivers to keep stock out, but funding runs out this year. It’s time to build on the success of this program and expand it to all rivers and streams across Victoria.
A research funding boost to make Victoria a leader in successful conservation
Restoring our ecosystems relies on knowing what interventions work best in protecting our endangered species. Sadly, decades of Government cuts have left Victoria with very little in-house scientific advice. Now we’re reliant on volunteers, external organisations, research funded by vested interests, and a university sector which is struggling due to COVID-19.
The BushCare Blitz would include significantly more money for Government-funded research into ecosystem protection, including for humane biological controls into invasive species, to provide expert advice to Government on best-practice conservation measures, to ensure the entire program delivers good environmental outcomes and bang for buck.
Plant 10 Million Trees Program
Being in lockdown has shown us just how important our public parks and open space are. For many of us, getting out into the green patches in our neighborhood has been the highlight of our day. Yet we’ve also realised how few green spaces some areas have, and how crowded many of them are. A tree-powered jobs boom has so many benefits: it’s good for employment, great for our wellbeing, and protects our cities against a hotter future.
- A giant program of tree-planting across all of Victoria, creating 3000 new jobs and costing $600 million over 10 years
- Individual grants for private landholders to plant and maintain indigenous trees and vegetation on their land, at a cost of $40 million per year for 10 years
- A funding boost of $400 million for Parks Victoria and other State Government agencies to expand their seasonal workforce to revegetate public lands that need help, especially those areas affected by the bushfires.
Transforming our cities with new trees
A ‘Resilient Melbourne’ plan has already been developed - it says we can expand tree cover to 40% across greater Melbourne (that means planting about 6 million trees!). But we’re nowhere near that yet, because this plan lacks funding from the Victorian Labor Government, and has yet to be expanded to regional and rural Victoria.
Funding to plant and maintain trees will create much needed employment in our local councils, who’ve so far been left out of COVID-19 economic support. Greater Melbourne can increase tree canopy cover to 40%, primarily through planting on Council land and on VicTrack land, and regional and rural councils will be able to plant new trees in streets, gardens, parks and along rivers and creeks.
Landholder grants to plant and protect trees
Many of the most important and remarkable trees across Victoria are on private land. Some of these are small patches of bush-habitat on farms. Others are the single, habitat rich trees in back gardens. There’s also huge potential to increase nature across the state, but encouraging private landholders to plant and maintain additional trees on their properties.
This part or the Greens 10 million trees initiative will provide grants so people can purchase, plant and maintain new trees and native vegetation. This in turn will stimulate new jobs in native plant and tree seed collection and nurseries.
Restoring national parks and public land
Complementing the weeding work of the BushCare Blitz program, this arm of our Plant 10 Million Tree program will allow Parks Victoria and other State Government agencies to expand their seasonal workforce to revegetate public lands where it’s needed, especially those areas affected by the bushfires.
How many jobs will it create?
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to double unemployment in Victoria, on top of the hit our regional communities took during and following the summer fires.
The Andrews Government has set aside $24 billion for COVID-19 recovery. It’s so important this money is spent in a way that creates new jobs building a better state, as part of a Green New Deal for Victoria.
The Greens initiatives for a BushCare Jobs Blitz and Plant 10 Million Trees Program would do exactly this, creating 11,000 new jobs while restoring our bushfire ravaged landscapes and creating beautiful green cities and towns.
Further information about jobs and cost
|BushCare Jobs Blitz||$1 billion||6000|
|Turbo-charged weed and invasive species eradication||$850 million over 10 years||5500, including temporary and permanent|
|Expanded fencing of rivers to keep stock out||$100 million over 10 years||350|
|A research funding boost to make Victoria a leader in successful conservation||$50 million over 10 years||150|
|Plant 10 Million Trees Program||$1 billion over 10 years ($100 million a year to 2030)||5000|
|Transforming our cities with new trees||$60 million a year to 2030||3000|
|Landholder grants to plant and protect native trees||$20 million a year to 2030||1000|
|Restoring national parks and public land||$20 million a year to 2030||1000|