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 collaboration with landholders and the Tasmanian and Australian governments, Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy work together to implement the Midlandscapes Project, designed to foster conservation on private land.
A key initiative within the project is the innovative Midlands Conservation Fund, which provides stewardship payments to farmers 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 develop and implement plans to protect them, which include fencing, grazing management and restoration of native vegetation.
The first participants
In June 2013 the Midlands Conservation Fund was launched at the ‘Beaufront' property of Julian von Bibra at Ross in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. Beaufront was one of the first 10 properties to be signed up to the fund.
Landowner Julian von Bibra is conserving 190 hectares of endangered grasslands and woodlands on his farm under the fund.
The Midlands Conservation Fund 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 farm balance sheet.
A long-term commitment
Stewardship agreements are initially committed to by landowners for up to 10 years with the intent that they'll be extended for rolling 5-year terms.
The fund contains over $3 million, generously donated by the Sidney Myer Fund and 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 2020, 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.