What we're doing
Most native vegetation in the Tasmanian Midlands is privately owned, and many 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. Julian is conserving 190 hectares of endangered grasslands and woodlands on his farm under the fund.
"The Midlands Conservation Fund means we now have a model that's committed to conservation and farmers working together for shared goals," said Julian.
"Essentially, conservation now has a place on the farm balance sheet."
A long-term commitment
Landowners initially commit to stewardship agreements for up to 10 years with the intent that they'll be extended for rolling 5-year terms.
Since its establishment in 2013, the fund has raised $3.7 million through private donations. It’s now supporting 15 Midlands farmers to protect 7500 hectares of high-conservation value land.
Generous donors include the Sidney Myer Fund and the Myer Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and others.
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.