Salty ravage

salt is destroying Australia's waterways and agricultural zones, says a recent study conducted by a committee of more than 100 scientists, government agencies and private sector groups. The report highlights the growing damage to the nation's coral reefs, vegetation loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. One major cause is the worsening salinity in the Murray-Darling basin, which provides 40 percent of Australia's agricultural value.

"Although there has been some improvement since 1996, as a nation we are not sustainable in environmental concerns,' remarked Australian state of environment committee chairperson Bruce Thom. Nearly 5.7 million hectares of land are currently at risk from salinity with 17 million hectares expected to be impacted by 2050. Even greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 16.9 per cent between 1990 and 1998.

The report calls for co-operation between the nation's federal and state governments and local communities to prevent further soil and water damage.

The coalition government has established a us $7.9 million conservation plan, including us $3.7 million to battle salinity and water quality.