Tassy Land Conservation Funds
4 June 2013 at 12:34 pm
A landmark $3.3 million conservation fund is offering Tasmanian farmers new stewardship agreements to pay for long-term conservation management on their land in one of Australia's 15 biodiversity hotspots.
The Midlands Conservation Fund says it has been six years in the making to get input from farmers and develop a model that pays farmers to protect endangered habitat for the long term.
The fund is a partnership between Bush Heritage Australia and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy and will help farmers safeguard the last pieces of remnant native grasslands and grassy woodlands through diversification.
“There is nothing else like it in Australia making it viable for farmers to put land under conservation management for the long term. The fund has a $10 million capital target by 2020,” MCF Chairman and Bush Heritage Australia vice-president, Andy Myer said.
“In the past, the Federal Government has historically offered incentives to protect ecological values on private land but offered no guarantee of funding, those programs have now ceased. In some cases, when funding ran out, farmers were left with responsibilities and costs.
“In contrast, the MCF guarantees ongoing funding and also offers land management resources from the partners. There is not much of a history or track record in Australia of offering viable or long-term financial incentives with for nature conservation on farms and private land,’ Myer said.
The landowners also receive conservation management resources, including ecological monitoring support to ensure the farm-based conservation programs are well supported.
"What makes this new stewardship agreement model more viable for farmers than traditional conservation covenants is that it is underpinned by a fund that can provide money for conservation in perpetuity," landowner Julian von Bibra said.
Von Bibra is conserving 190 hectares of endangered grasslands on his farm in the Northern Midlands under the fund.
"The MCF means that we now have a model that is committed to conservation and farmers working together for shared goals. Essentially, conservation now has a place on the balance sheet."
Tasmanian Midlands is home to 32 nationally threatened species and more than 180 plants and animals threatened at State level.
For more information go to http://www.bushheritage.org.au/