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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Victorian Minister for Environment
John Thwaites

8 September 2003

$891,000 for Victorian Trust for Nature Revolving Fund

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Victorian Minister for Environment, John Thwaites, today announced $891,000 in Natural Heritage Trust funding to provide permanent protection for properties of high conservation value under the Trust for Nature Victoria.

Dr Kemp said $891,000 in Trust funding would go to the Trust for Nature's Revolving Fund to buy, protect and resell land that contains significant wildlife and habitat. The funding is in addition to $500,000 in Federal funding announced in April 2000 and matched over that period with approximately $1.4 million from the Victorian Government and the Trust.

"The Trust for Nature Victoria will use the money to buy land of high conservation value, place a 'conservation covenant' on the title, and then resell the property to a landholder committed to its long-term conservation and protection," Dr Kemp said.

"When buying land, the Trust must take into account presence of wildlife and habitat, especially nationally endangered or threatened plants and animals, ecologically significant wetlands, and areas of significant biodiversity.

"The Trust will also call on regional and community groups to work in partnership with the Victorian Government to undertake important conservation work before re-selling the land with a conservation covenant."

A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a covenanting organisation, usually a government body or a conservation organisation. The conservation covenant can be registered on all or part of the land and is binding on successive owners.

"The conservation covenant provides permanent protection for native plants and animals on the property. This involves developing plans and activities such as fencing off sensitive areas from livestock, controlling weeds and animal pests, fire management and stocking rates," Mr Thwaites said.

"By buying the land, placing a conservation covenant on it and then reselling it, the funding 'revolves' back to the Trust for Nature Victoria which then buys more properties of high conservation value."

The first land purchase by the Trust for Nature Victoria through the Revolving Fund was near the Grampians National Park. The Revolving Fund has since provided protection for significant habitat on 36 properties. These include:

Under the terms of the Revolving Fund Agreement, the Trust for Nature Victoria aims to revolve properties within a 14 month period. Victoria joins New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia in buying properties of high conservation value through the Revolving Fund program.

"This initiative will contribute to the national effort by Governments, environmental and community organisations to protect Australia's rich biodiversity and native animal and plant species, many which are under threat," Mr Thwaites said.

Dr Kemp said today's funding announcement is part of the $5 million allocated from the first phase of the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust to provide a capital base for revolving funds across Australia.

"It also complements the National Reserve System, which now protects nearly nine million hectares of land that is home to a wide range of Australia's flora and fauna," he said.

"But given that two thirds of Australia's land is privately owned or managed, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to focus on conserving nature on private land if we are to make serious inroads in protecting our unique flora and fauna."

Commonwealth of Australia