What we're doing
Most native vegetation in the Tasmanian Midlands is privately owned, and many of landholders have long historical connections to the landscape. Given this, and the high value of land in this agriculturally productive region, buying properties to manage them for conservation isn't practical or appropriate.
In the Midlands there's now a better way to conserve species and habitats on farms. In collaboration with landholders and the Tasmanian and Australian governments, Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy work together to implement the Midlandscapes Project, which includes a number of initiatives designed to foster conservation on private land.
A key initiative within the project is the innovative Midlands Conservation Fund. Developed by Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, the fund provides stewardship payments to farmers in return for conserving biodiversity on their farms, alongside agricultural production.
Landholders who take up stewardship agreements are paid a fee for putting portions of their land toward conservation. These agreements then provide annual performance payments for meeting conservation targets. Our ecologists help identify native plants and animals, and help to develop and implement plans to protect them, which include fencing, grazing management and restoration of native vegetation.
A long-term commitment
Stewardship agreements are initially committed to by landowners for up to ten years with the intent that they'll be extended for rolling five-year terms.
The fund contains over $3 million, generously donated by the Sidney Myer Fund, The Myer Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and others. As we work towards our $10 million capital target by 2016, we'll have the capacity to support many more landowners.
The stewardship agreement model will be more viable for farmers in the long term than traditional conservation covenants because it's underpinned by a fund that will provide money for conservation in perpetuity.