Concern for West Gippsland’s threatened native plants and animals has prompted an anonymous donor to seed a conservation fund to raise $1 million for the region.
West Gippsland’s popularity has brought mass tourism and two centuries of land clearing, logging, fishing and farming, which has helped its prosperity but has also contributed to significant habitat and species loss.
The West Gippsland Conservation Fund is a first for Trust for Nature, which has been working with landholders and protecting habitat on private land across Victoria for almost 50 years.
The Trust’s Partnerships Manager Paul Moore said the Fund is an endowment which is intended to grow from ongoing donations and investment returns over time and assist in providing a stable, ongoing revenue stream for private land management in West Gippsland.
He said, “This campaign is a very different activity for us and is the result of the anonymous donation from an incredibly generous individual who is concerned about West Gippsland’s environment and who has agreed to match funds dollar for dollar to the value of $500,000.
“As climate change becomes a real danger, the challenges this region faces have multiplied alarmingly. Climate change is bringing hotter, drier seasons and reduced rainfall, which increases pressure on natural ecosystems and wildlife that are experiencing habitat loss.”
This Fund will have an impact now to save important species, but it will also be around in 50 to 100 years, servicing the conservation priorities of the West Gippsland region in perpetuity.
The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority sees the Fund as an opportunity to enable evidence-based work that increases the resilience of native plants and animals on private land.
The Authority’s CEO Martin Fuller said, “The Fund is an exciting development and one that offers the opportunity to complement the collective efforts to protect and enhance the region’s amazing biodiversity.”
Trust for Nature programs are undertaken in partnership with landholders and Traditional Owners.
More than 137 properties in West Gippsland have conservation covenants on them, protecting 6,152 ha. This number increases each year.
Conservation covenants are voluntary agreements on property titles that enable private landowners to protect nature forever, even after the property changes hands.
Trust for Nature is one of Australia’s oldest conservation organisations, established by an Act of the Victorian Parliament in 1972 to protect habitat on private land.
It is a not-for-profit organisation that relies on the generosity of supporters to help protect Victoria’s biodiversity.
The Fund will be officially launched in Noojee on 5 September. Businesses, groups and individuals with an interest in conservation are welcome to attend. Here is more information about the Fund and how to support it.
Inset photo courtesy West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.