Paying farmers to improve native remnant vegetation – we would like to see that

The Australian Farm Biodiversity Stewardship Pilots indicates it will pay farmers for management activities to improve the condition of existing native vegetation.

The Australian Government says it intends a pilot market-based approache to enhancing remnant vegetation as part of the Agriculture Stewardship Package.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the Enhancing Remnant Vegetation Pilot will see farmers being paid for the biodiversity benefits from the management of their existing native vegetation.
“Farmers have been managing biodiversity on their farms for decades and it’s time they were paid for it,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We are already trailing the Carbon plus Biodiversity Pilot in these regions, which is seeing new plantings that can provide an income from biodiversity and carbon.

“We will start trialling a new market-based approach that will also see them paid for actions to protect and enhance their remnant native vegetation. 

The government provided $22.3 million in the 2021 budget to run these additional trials alongside the Carbon plus Biodiversity Pilot. The trial will prioritise funding for projects with the most biodiversity benefit per dollar.

“We don’t want to lock up land, we want this work to go hand in hand with a productive farming enterprise.

“Our farmers produce some of the best food and fibre in the world and we want to reward them for delivering positive outcomes for the community while also improving the financial sustainability of their own farm business.”

“These pilots are about creating a credible system to attract private investment in biodiversity on farms. Over time I want to roll these pilots out to more farmers, making them widely available and fuelled by private sector investment.
As part of the pilot, the Australian National University (ANU) has created the processes and protocols that measure and reward farmers for undertaking the projects, delivering a system that will be respected by international markets. 
ANU Professor Andrew Macintosh said that management protocols could include activities such as fencing, replanting and weed and pest control.

In some projects, farmers may choose to undertake small areas of planting to provide wildlife corridors and connectivity across the landscape.

For more details or to apply for the program visit the website.

Where the money is held

·         The Agriculture Stewardship Package now totals $66.1 million, with $32.1 million provided in 2021, and $34 million provided in 2019.

·         Six Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions across Australia are supporting the trials: Burnett-Mary (QLD), Central West (NSW), North Central (VIC), North Tasmania (TAS), Eyre Peninsula (SA) and South-west (WA).

·         Regions have been selected, amongst other criteria, to test the program across a range of jurisdictions, farming systems, and vegetation types, and to complement and compare the trial with the Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot.

·         The trials are designed to test the underpinning systems and frameworks of the approach to ensure credibility and test the market willingness to buy.

·         Farmers in these regions will be able to apply in late September.