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Growth in purchasing land for conservation

The amount of private land bought for the purpose of protecting it for conservation is increasing around the world.

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Growth in purchasing land for conservation

The amount of private land bought for the purpose of protecting it for conservation is increasing around the world.

In Australia over 145,000 hectares of private land with important conservation values have been protected using dedicated funds that buy, protect and resell land for conservation.  

Globally, more than 680,000 hectares of private land have been protected using this purchase-protect-resale method with funds exceeding AUD$533 million available.

Mathew Hardy from RMIT’s ICON Science Research Group and Revolving Fund Coordinator at Trust for Nature said conservation efforts around the world are increasingly focused on protecting privately owned land, and the purchase-protect-resale approach can assist in that process.

Mathew said, “National parks and state reserves on public land are fantastic and necessary to protect native plants and animals, but they’re not enough to prevent species extinction.

“In Victoria, for example, 60 per cent of our valuable and threatened habitats are on private land, this is why we need to focus on protecting privately owned land.”

There are two main ways of permanently protecting wildlife and native plants on private land.

One is for an organisation like Trust for Nature to buy land outright and manage it for conservation, the other is to encourage landholders to voluntarily place a conservation covenant on all or part of their land.

Trust for Nature in Victoria was set up in 1972 and specifically enables the conservation of nature on private land.

It has a program that buys, protects and sells private land for conservation, called the Revolving Fund. There are currently nine properties for sale in the Fund and since inception, the program has protected nearly 7,000 hectares, a similar area to the Brisbane Ranges National Park.

Trust for Nature also works with landholders to put conservation covenants on properties, protecting the land forever, even if it changes hands. There are over 7,500 covenants in Australia, more than 1400 of those are in Victoria.

Mathew said, “Our research was the first of its kind to review the practice of purchasing, protecting and selling private land for conservation.

With over 684,000 hectares already protected, it highlights that this model of conservation can be a self-replenishing way to permanently protect nature on private land.”

The findings have been published in a paper published in the international journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Trust for Nature is a not-for-profit organisation that relies on the generosity of supporters to help us protect Victoria’s amazing biodiversity.

Main photo: Hooded Robin by Chris Tzaros.