Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nature refuges - Queensland, Australia

Here in Queensland a solution to the limited funding available to government for conservation has been the establishment of the nature refuge program. This recognises the important environmental values that private lands hold and reduces the necessity for the State to own and manage these properties.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) is the agency that administers this program and has useful and interesting information about this program available on their website.

The overall concept relies on a voluntary agreement between the landholder and the State government that "acknowledges a commitment to manage and preserve land with significant conservation values while allowing compatible and sustainable land uses to continue". This arrangement is recognised on the title of the land and is carried across to new owners if the land changes ownership, thereby protecting the environmental values and management ethos in perpetuity.

According to the DERM website, there is assistance to the landholder for management activities through the NatureAssist program. This program currently attracts some funding through the Blueprint for the Bush Initiative and is given out through "rounds" where property owners have expressed an interest in receiving funding for specified projects. How much money from these program actually travels through to the landholders I am not sure, although some of the projects that have seemingly attracted funding include:

  • control of stock; 
  • establishment of of-stream watering points;
  • identification and management of cultural heritage;
  • fencing;
  • revegetation or regeneration techniques aimed at improving water quality;
  • ecological surveys aimed at guiding management requirements;
  • weed control;
  • development of sustainable management plans; and
  • improvements to agricultural practices that will result in the improvement of conservation values on the property. 

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