Increasing value is given to the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. This is leading to changes in landuse that may not have been considered viable or desirable in the past.
'Stewardship' is the concept of paying landholders for managing their land to protect biodiversity and other natural resources. It is likely that a change in management practices would be required.
As part of Caring for our Country, the Environmental Stewardship Program provides funds to help land managers provide long-term protection, rehabilitation and improvement of targeted environmental assets on their land.
Land managers will be selected for participation in the stewardship program through auction, tender and other market-based mechanisms. It will offer contracts to landholders who can provide environmental services on a cost-effective basis. These contracts will provide incentives through payments to selected farmers and other private land managers to achieve long-term environmental outcomes on their properties.
Contract lengths may be up to 15 years duration, to allow for the time required by ecological processes to produce an outcome. For example most regenerating vegetation does not develop resistance to pests and weeds for 10-15 years.
Some state conservation agencies are also developing stewardship programs.
Until recently, improving biodiversity on your property has not been considered tradable. This is changing. In some states, systems of credits for protection and improvement to biodiversity values are now being developed. For example:
For more than 100 years, Commonwealth and state governments have protected high value conservation properties by acquiring them for national parks and nature reserves. Now this represents only one option as protected areas include many different types of government and privately owned land.
Acquisition by non government agencies
Examples of landholding non-government organisations that have conservation objectives include:
Acquisition by, or with assistance of, government agencies
As part of Caring for our Country, the National Reserve System provides assistance with land acquisition by state and territory conservation agencies or community groups. The program also funds the establishment of protected areas on private land that in some states may be coordinated through farming and/or community conservation organisations.
State agencies have land acquisition programs for reserves. For example, NSW landholders can apply for voluntary acquisition through the National Parks and Wildlife Service who will assess conservation value and acquire land at market value on a priority basis.
Conservation covenants are a promise contained in a deed to land or real estate which is binding upon the current owner and all future owners. Covenants are an option for many individual landholders and can cover many situations. In some cases there are some subsidies and tax concessions available.