The Environmental Stewardship Program is part of the Caring for our Country initiative, the program aims to maintain and/or improve the condition and extent of targeted matters of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Environmental Stewardship Program offers funding rounds through which eligible private land managers can apply to provide a range of agreed management activities to protect, rehabilitate and improve particular ecological communities. Eligible land managers include farmers, Indigenous communities, and other managers of private freehold and leasehold land.
Successful land managers are contracted to manage targeted matters of national environmental significance on their land and can receive funding for activities that are additional to their normal legislative responsibilities, for up to 15 years.
Relevant management activities could include:
- reducing stocking and grazing intensity
- reducing fertilizer use
- expanding weed management
- undertaking or expanding replanting of native species (relevant to the ecological community)
The Environmental Stewardship Program provides long-term opportunities for farmers to get involved in conservation on their land and supports the vital role our farmers already play in biodiversity conservation and the stewardship of our natural environment.
Program outcomes include:
- improve habitat across the landscape
- increase viability, integrity and buffers to high quality remnants for ecological communities
- improve the long-term protection of nationally endangered species and ecological communities
- improve the condition and function of ecological communities
- create enduring changes in land manager attitudes and behaviours towards environmental protection and sustainable land management practices.
The Environmental Stewardship Program is delivered through discrete funding rounds, which target different matters of national environmental significance in selected regions.
Funding rounds targeting Multiple Ecological Communities
In 2011-12 the Environmental Stewardship Program will deliver a funding round targeting peppermint box and iron grass ecological communities in South Australia.
In 2010-11 Environmental Stewardship Program delivered the first multiple ecological communities funding round in New South Wales and South Australia targeting a number of ecological communities.
Further information about funding rounds targeting multiple ecological communities can be found at these pages.
Funding round targeting Box Gum Grassy Woodland
The first target for the Environmental Stewardship Program was the white box, yellow box, Blakely's red gum grassy woodland and derived native grasslands ecological community (box gum grassy woodland) which extends from Queensland through New South Wales to Victoria through the wheat-sheep belt.
This critically endangered ecological community has been reduced to less than five per cent of its original extent and occurs as remnants of varying quality on productive agricultural land, where, without active management, it is still at risk.
The Australian National University has been contracted by the Australian Government to undertake an ecological benchmark and monitoring survey for the Box Gum Grassy Woodland projects. More than 125 farms will be part of the study.