Friday, July 1, 2022

Huge swathe of NSW land protected in-perpetuity: Griffin

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Australian Rural & Regional News has asked the Minister some questions, set out below the release.

The Hon James Griffin, Minister for Environment and Heritage (NSW), Media Release, 12 June 2022

More than 31,200 hectares of private land in north western NSW is now protected in perpetuity through the NSW Government’s Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT), marking a major win for biodiversity in the region.

Minister Griffin with Phil Eulo
Minister Griffin with Phil Eulo (Bush Heritage Australia field officer Bush Heritage Australia and Budjiti Elder) and Brenda Duffy (Healthy Landscapes Manager, Bush Heritage Australia) at Naree Station.
Photo: Harriet Ampt, NSW BCT.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said Bush Heritage Australia and South Endeavour Trust have signed permanent conservation agreements for Naree Station and Yantabulla Station.

“This is a NSW Government commitment of $8.9 million to support the rich biodiversity in this part of the state, and it’s a great example of what government and private organisations can achieve when working together to protect and conserve our environment,” Mr Griffin said.

“At least 60 per cent of Australia’s land is privately owned or managed, and many important ecosystems are found on private land, which is why conservation agreements like these are so important.

Naree. Photo: Alex Pike, NSW DPE.

“These two massive sites, which are on the traditional Country of the Budjiti people, are home to nationally significant wetlands for waterbird feeding and breeding.

“The wetlands form part of the Paroo River catchment, which is the last free-flowing river of the Murray Darling Basin. It’s considered among the top 20 sites for waterbirds in Australia.

“These two BCT conservation agreements are pivotal for the many species that rely on the protection of these unique ecosystems to breed, rest and survive.”

At Naree and Yantabulla, ecologists have recorded:

  • More than 187 water bird species, many of which are threatened
  • At least 15 mammal species, including the vulnerable striped faced dunnart, sandy inland mouse and little pied bat
  • At least 350 native plant species, among 16 vegetation communities
  • Important habitat for pink cockatoos, budgies, emus, short beaked echidnas, red kangaroos, and a variety of frogs and reptiles.

The agreements, administered by the NSW Government’s BCT, are supported in perpetuity with annual payments for agreed conservation action.

The combined conservation area protected under these agreements is 31,266 hectares, which is one of the largest areas of private land protected under a BCT agreement.

Prior to signing these agreements, the BCT had invested $124.9 million to support 146 funded conservation agreements, collectively covering over 78,000 hectares.

These two neighbouring agreements therefore increase the area protected under funded agreements by a whopping 40 per cent.

To read more about the BCT, visit https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/

Questions

Australian Rural & Regional News has asked some questions of the Minister. The Minister’s response will be published here once received.

  • What is the nature of the agreed conservation action on Naree Station and Yantabulla Station?
  • What action is required by the BCT agreement that would not otherwise take place?
  • What impact does the action required have on the current agricultural operations on the properties?
  • How does the amount paid to the landowners relate to agricultural income forfeited by them to undertake the action and the cost of the agreed actions?
  • How is the annual payment to the landowners determined, including in perpetuity, and will the payments vary?
  • What would be the cost to the current or any future landowner to remove the obligation?
  • What is the position if the ecosystems paid to conserve are destroyed or substantially damaged, for instance by fire or other natural disaster?
  • What is the position if the inflows of water sustaining the wetlands are significantly reduced in the future, including due to climate change? 
  • Do the actions impact on water management in the Murray Darling Basin?
  • Do the agreements entitle the State to step in and take control of the land in any circumstances?
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