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New rural landholders’ incentive scheme to be launched at Farming Conference


Sharlene King
5 November 2015

Lismore City Council will launch its new Rural Landholder Initiative, developed in partnership with Southern Cross University, at this week’s 2015 National Biological Farming Conference and Expo (November 6 to 8).

Lismore City Mayor Cr Jenny Dowell will launch the Rural Landholder Initiative (RLI) at 9.00am on Saturday November 7 in the Whitebrook Theatre at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

The RLI is designed to build landholder capacity to manage ecosystems and reap agricultural benefits such as healthier waterways and improved soil management. The project has been funded by a $100,000 grant from the NSW Environmental Trust.

“The Rural Landholder Initiative is an integral part of the Council’s Biodiversity Management Strategy and is designed to conserve biodiversity hotspots on private land through education and incentives,” said Cr Dowell.

“Council recognises that farmers and other rural landholders are the stewards of the land and working with them to protect biodiversity while enhancing their own farming or agricultural production is the way forward.”

Cr Dowell said best-practice land management recognised the link between healthy biodiversity and healthy farms.

“The RLI builds on work already undertaken by Council over the last few years working with rural landholders to restore land with positive results for our native flora and fauna, as well as for the ongoing health of these working farms.”

The Council is currently selecting 10 landholders, following a recent Expression of Interest process, who will each receive materials and labour to the value of $5000 for on-ground farm works. The funds will be used to help landholders undertake weed control, stock fencing and tree planting to improve farm profitability and improve habitat and protection for threatened species. Landholder field days are planned for these sites in the future to demonstrate the effectiveness of these works to other rural landholders.

The RLI was developed based on findings in Southern Cross University’s Incentives Report, the result of a 12-month research project into the best ways to engage landholders through incentives. This included a landholder survey to find out what farmers wanted and how best the Council could help them conserve natural assets on their land.

The University’s Associate Professor Caroline Sullivan and PhD candidate Helen Smith, both from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering, conducted the research project.

Professor Sullivan said the Incentives Report, led by Helen Smith, provided examples of how different types of incentives (financial and other) could be used to motivate change in land management practice.

“Most rural land in Australia is privately owned, and it is essential that we get private landholders to understand how they can help to promote better conditions for biodiversity and habitats.

“Providing support for better biodiversity management on private land is a form of ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’. Such payment schemes are at the cutting-edge of environmental management, as we try to integrate environmental attributes and values more explicitly into the macro economic framework used to govern the country.”

Professor Sullivan said the Lismore RLI was a novel scheme that enabled the Council to respond directly to the needs of landholders.

“In the first instance, it will provide support for 10 landholders to demonstrate the scheme on their properties, and how their best practice actions can be used to support better biodiversity-sensitive management of private land. In the future, the scheme will be expanded to include more landholders, and lessons learned from these first 10 cases will be useful.

“This innovative Rural Landholder Initiative scheme is one of the reasons why the Lismore City Council was recently awarded a NSW Green Globe award.”

The National Biological Farming Conference and Expo is being held at SCU’s Lismore campus from November 6 to 7 and is part of the University’s Research Week activities.

Southern Cross University and Lismore City Council are both sponsors of the event.

Photo: SCU researcher Helen Smith (left) with Lismore City Council Rural Landholder Initiative extension officer Kate Steel and senior environmental strategies officer Theresa Adams (Credit: Lismore City Council).

Media contacts:
Southern Cross University: Sharlene King, Media Officer, 02 6620 3508, 0429 661 349
Lismore City Council: Terra Sword, Media Coordinator, 02 6625 0529, 0437 697 723