More than 50 landholders from across South Australia braved the cold on a recent winter’s evening to attend a forum in Mt Barker to share advice about caring for nature on their land and to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
Farmers Peter and Angela Sharley are actively protecting the natural environment on their small cattle farm, Pambula, on the Fleurieu Peninsula and shared their story at the Mt Barker forum.
“We run a balanced farm and we want to do better for the soil, the water and the wildlife that we can all enjoy,” Peter said.
“When we started here 30 years ago it was barren but we have worked hard to revegetate the farm.
“You make mistakes along the way and there are things that have worked and things that didn’t. I was interested to hear other people’s stories, to know what others do on their land.”
Farmers like Peter, as well as tree changers and lifestyle block owners are part of a growing number of people who are keen to permanently protect wildlife habitat on their own land through Heritage Agreements. (Schemes in other states are known by other names.)
Heritage Agreements provide landholders in South Australia with practical advice and financial incentives to help protect native vegetation. Currently there are over 1,600 landholders permanently protecting more than 1.8 million hectares through Heritage Agreements in South Australia.
Private land conservation has been undergoing a reinvigoration in South Australia since 2020 thanks to the Revitalising Private Conservation SA Program (RPCSA). The first round of funding in 2020 was oversubscribed with 336 landholders submitting applications.
A further investment of $6m announced in the recent South Australian State Budget will mean more support for landholders to protect and manage native vegetation on their property.
The RPCSA program brings together a partnership of South Australia’s leading environmental and agricultural producer organisations, including Nature Foundation, Livestock SA, Conservation SA, Nature Conservation Society of South Australia, and Trees For Life. The program is led by Nature Foundation working closely with the Department for Environment and Water which funds the program.
The forum in Mt Barker was the first of a series that are being planned for other states. We will be advertising these forums on our Facebook page and invitations will be emailed so keep an eye out.
Permanent protection arrangements vary from state to state, but there is no federal framework or investment. As the international community prepares for the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) later this year and with the new federal Labor government’s pre-election commitment to a domestic target to protect 30% of Australia’s land and 30% of its sea by 2030 (30X30), landholders like Peter and the others who attended the forum and the broader private land conservation sector are ready to accelerate their work.
Read more stories of landholders actively managing land for nature.