Appendix 11 -
Voluntary Conservation Agreements
|A voluntary conservation agreement is most suited to people who:
Voluntary conservation agreements are joint agreements between a landholder and the Minister for the Environment. They allow you to conserve the natural, cultural or scientific values of an area of land. The agreements provide permanent protection for the special features of your property.
The agreements are entirely voluntary. The terms of each agreement are negotiated between the landholder and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which works on behalf of the Minister.
Areas that a voluntary conservation agreement can protect
Several agreements are already in place to protect land:
A voluntary conservation agreement is for owners of freehold land, lessees of Crown land and local councils are eligible to enter into these agreements.
containing significant native plants and animals, rare and endangered species
containing important habitat and vegetation types which are not represented in the existing national parks and reserves
on which there are Aboriginal sites or historic places
containing remnant vegetation
linking areas of native vegetation
containing special geological or landscape features
containing critical habitat, or a threatened species population, ecological community or habitat
containing limestone caves (Karst areas).
Benefits from a voluntary conservation agreement
A voluntary conservation agreement gives a landholder the opportunity for his/her land to be permanently conserved - not just under their ownership, but for all future owners. When entering into a voluntary conservation agreement, the NPWS may provide assistance to the landholder in the form of:
Landholders who enter into a voluntary conservation agreement may be eligible for rate relief and tax deductions, although this is not controlled by the NPWS.
How are conservation agreements negotiated?
If you're interested in a voluntary conservation agreement, you can fill in an online form on the National Parks web-site to find out more. Alternatively, the NPWS may identify land suitable for an agreement, and will approach the landholder personally.
In both cases, the NPWS will:
If both the landholder and the NPWS wish to proceed with the agreement, a draft is produced in consultation with the landholder. This process can take from between three months and a year - we realise that landholders may need time to discuss this important step with their family or just to think about it. Several drafts may be developed before a final one is produced.
explain the process of establishing a conservation agreement
discuss any concerns held by the landholder
inspect the area to evaluate its conservation value and identify any management issues.
Once the details of the agreement are settled, the voluntary conservation agreement is signed by the landholder and the Minister for the Environment.
A detailed plan of management for the conservation area may also be prepared in consultation with the landholder.
Terms of a voluntary conservation agreement
The terms of individual voluntary conservation agreements are determined by the special features contained in the area, and the wishes of the landholder.
Officers and researchers of the NPWS may seek permission to visit the property occasionally to monitor the condition of the area and its features. The conservation agreement may also limit activities such as the clearing of native vegetation. It may also include specific commitments from the landholder, such as the maintenance of fences.
After the agreement is signed
Once the agreement is complete, the NPWS maintains contact with the landholder to provide advice and assistance, and to monitor the land as detailed in the voluntary conservation agreement. The landholder continues to undertake responsibility for the management of the land, including control of weeds and feral animals.
A voluntary conservation agreement provides permanent protection for the feature or area. If the land is sold, the agreement remains in place.
Any publicity of individual voluntary conservation agreements only takes place with the consent of the landholder. A list of all voluntary conservation agreements is kept by the NPWS and is available for public inspection.
Reference - National Parks Website September 2003: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au