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Yarra residents permanently protect land to save critically endangered species

Landholders in the Yarra Ranges are taking legal steps to permanently protect habitat for endangered species by placing conservation covenants on their properties.

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Landholders in the Yarra Ranges are taking legal steps to permanently protect habitat for endangered species by placing conservation covenants on their properties.

Conservation covenants are tied to title, protecting habitat even after the property changes hands.

Trust for Nature has partnered with more than 1,400 landholders across Victoria to put covenants on properties, 48 of these are in the Yarra Ranges.

Ben Cullen from Trust for Nature said they’re working with neighbouring properties in the area to link habitat for all native animals, but particularly the threatened Helmeted Honeyeater and Leadbeater’s Possum.

“We have a cluster of neighbouring properties adjacent to the Yellingbo Reserve that are protected by conservation covenants.

“The covenants make a real difference because they mean that as urban pressures increase in the area we don’t lose special environments that are critical to the survival of threatened species.”

The covenants don’t stop landholders from doing most of the things they would normally do on their properties; they still keep animals, maintain their home, garden and lifestyle while protecting the really important areas.

“Many landholders we work with don’t know a lot about conservation, and that doesn’t matter at all.

“They move to this area for its amazing natural beauty. It’s a lifestyle choice for many—the landholders happen to also be critical in saving the Helmeted Honeyeater and Leadbeater’s Possums from extinction. That’s an incredible legacy and something they can be really proud of.”

As part of Trust for Nature’s Spring into Nature program, locals had the chance to visit two Yellingbo properties in October which had conservation covenants placed on title 12 months ago.  

The properties showcase the diversity and resilience of the land and what can be achieved when it’s given the chance to regenerate.

Previously grazed areas now have rich understorey with many native orchids. The areas act as a buffer to the nationally significant swampy vegetation in low lying areas.

Yellingbo residents Gaye Gadsden and David Carr put a convenant on two-thirds of their property in 2018.

Gaye said, “I really love wildlife and we’ve just got tens of thousands of creatures that we share this property with and I don’t want to see their home compromised.

“We’re only caretakers here for at best a couple of decades and beyond that I want to make sure all of those other creatures that we share this place with, home remains.”

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.

Main photo: Attendees look at precious orchids at an open day on Gaye and David's property.

Inset photo: Helmeted Honeyeater.