In September 2016, Blue Mountain View was voluntarily placed under a conservation covenant and entered into Australia's National Reserve System. The property's natural values will be protected indefinitely and the covenant cannot be revoked by any future land owner without the consent of both the Tasmanian and Australian governments.

 

CONSERVATION COVENANTS

The conservation of bushland in Tasmania, as in other parts of Australia, is increasingly conducted through agreements between government agencies and landowners, with these arrangements being generally voluntarily entered into but often having legally binding consequences. This trend, often involving third party intermediaries such as community and environmental organizations and even businesses, helps to harness the resources and expertise of many actors and make nature conservation a shared responsibility.

Tasmania’s Protected Areas on Private Land Program (PAPL) is the main framework for voluntary legal protection of native bushland. Through PAPL, landowners are able to become partners in nature conservation through various levels of commitment, from non-binding Land for Wildlife membership, to legally-binding conservation agreements. The PAPL report on 'Bugs, Birds, Bettongs and Bush' provides a very useful guide for landowners seeking to conserve natural values on their properties. Since the early 2000s, conservation covenants have entered Tasmania’s environmental management landscape, offering the means to voluntarily bring additional lands and waters under stricter environmental protection without the expensive financial outlays of outright acquisition by the government or the drawbacks of coercive regulation.

The Tasmania story here parallels a similar movement in mainland Australia. The technique was first used in 1971 (in Western Australia), but only began to be applied more widely in the late 1990s, and today just over 1 per cent (or 8.05 million ha) of Australian land is under a conservation covenant. As in other Australian states, the Tasmanian conservation covenants are statutory-based - the Nature Conservation Act 2002 - in order to circumvent limitations in the common law rules about covenants. As of early 2015, there were 760 covenants in Tasmania covering about 96,000 hectares, compared to approximately 2.5 million hectares in the state’s reserve system. The growth in covenants stems directly from the Protected Areas on Private Land Program 'PALP', which focuses on protecting bushland ‘in areas that are greater than ten hectares in size and are in good condition - vegetation that has a diversity of species, has limited management issues such as weeds, and ideally is linked to other areas of native bush’.

Owners of covenanted properties benefit from land tax exemption, concessional local council rates in some municipalities, and access to land management advice, and in some cases the Minister for DPIPWE may provide direct financial compensation.

The expansion of conservation covenants in Tasmania owes to the work of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC). It now effectively manages much of Tasmania’s private conservation covenant program on behalf of DPIPWE, both by buying properties through its 'revolving fund' for on-selling with a covenant, as well as negotiating with land owners who on their own initiative volunteer to place their land under a covenant. The TLC is also being tasked by DPIPWE to undertake monitoring and compliance supervision of the covenant process. Covenants have the potential to protect pockets of high conservation land and mobilise community engagement in environmental management. The very process of entering into a covenant is a ‘social filter’ that serves to screen and recruit landowners with a strong personal commitment to nature conservation. Blue Mountain View has recently been approved for inclusion in the PALP conservation covenant program.

CARBON CREDITS

Although not yet a feature of Blue Mountain View, the conservation of bushland in Tasmania, as in other parts of Australia, is increasingly conducted through agreements between government agencies and landowners, with these arrangements being generally voluntarily entered into but often having legally binding consequences. This trend, often involving third party intermediaries such as community and environmental organizations and even businesses, helps to harness the resources and expertise of many actors and make nature conservation a shared responsibility.

Tasmania’s Protected Areas on Private Land Program (PAPL) is the main framework for voluntary legal protection of native bushland. Through PAPL, landowners are able to become partners in nature conservation through various levels of commitment, from non-binding Land for Wildlife membership, to legally-binding conservation agreements. The PAPL report on 'Bugs, Birds, Bettongs and Bush' provides a very useful guide for landowners seeking to conserve natural values on their properties. 

Other approaches to private land conservation seek to create new economic opportunities from conservation or sustainable utilization of natural resources. One approach sometimes used in Australia is carbon farming, According to the Carbon Farmers of Australia, 'Carbon Farming is simply farming in a way that reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions or captures and holds carbon in vegetation and soils. It is managing land, water, plants and animals to meet the Triple Challenge of Landscape Restoration, Climate Change and Food Security. It seeks to reduce emissions in its production processes, while increasing production and sequestering carbon in the landscape'. The work of one approach to carbon faming in Australia can be viewed in the following short video clip.

 

LAND FOR WILDLIFE

A valuable voluntary initiative in Tasmania that enables land owners to contribute to nature conservation is called Land for Wildlife (LfW). A model that originated in Victoria, LfW came to Tasmania in 1998  with the aim to ‘encourage, support and recognise landowners who are taking a positive approach to the integration of property land management with nature conservation on private land'.  

The scheme, administered by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), caters to areas of at least two hectares, and as of December 2015 approximately 880 LfW agreements were in place in Tasmania covering 56,680 hectares. The LfW participants benefit from access to environmental advice from DPIPWE and receive ‘The Running Postman’ newsletter, which features stories and tips about land management.

For conservationists owning land smaller than 2 hectares, DPIPWE offers an alternative scheme called ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ (GFW), which was launched in 2008 and currently has about 500 members. GFW was created from the recognition that broader community engagement in nature conservation and sustainable land use practices on private land could be achieved by focusing on smaller properties within the urban or peri-urban fringe that contained valuable pockets of remnant bushland.

Blue Mountain View has participated in LfW since May 2015.