Future funds for willing landowners to protect important habitat

Kathryn Dryden
August 29, 2016

Future funds for willing landowners to protect important habitat

International wildlife conservation organisation Rainforest Trust has offered to help raise funds to buyback important habitat from a willing landowner in the Cassowary Coast.

Through the Australian Government's National Landcare Program, Terrain is helping identify important properties where landowners are willing to sell for conservation or would enter a conservation agreement in return for a payment.

Mission Beach Cassowaries president Liz Gallie said she approached Rainforest Trust with the idea. Ms Gallie said, “I then met with Terrain and Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) and we agreed that we should work together to find the most important property to seek to protect, particularly for cassowary corridors”.

Terrain recently gathered together a panel of experts from government, community and industry to use mapping to identify properties that have high biodiversity value, low level of protection and high level of threat that might be suitable for voluntary buyback. Once the mapping is refined, landowners who are interested in selling their property for National Park or similar could apply.

Terrain's Tony O'Malley said, “When a property has really important habitat, it’s often because the land manager is doing a great job looking after it.

“An even better outcome would be if we could use Rainforest Trust funds to pay a few landowners to retain ownership and keep looking after the habitat," he said.

To receive payment, landowners would need to agree to a long-term conservation agreement.

Terrain is talking with National Parks and the Nature Refuge program about what sort of properties might be acceptable as future protected areas if the landowner was willing. Properties would generally need to be large and in very good condition. It is hoped that Rainforest Trust might provide $300,000 annually to the project.

Mr O’Malley said, “We invited people from Mahogany glider habitat, Kuranda, the Tablelands, Daintree and Cape York to the mapping workshop because they might want to adapt the process for other species, local areas and regions, and because they have knowledge and experience that helps us improve our method.”

Rainforest Trust commended Terrain’s professional approach.

For information, contact Tony on 0437 728 190 or tony.omalley@terrain.org.au.