Published on 18 September 2020

Revitalising conservation

“Once we got it, we were happy to know that from then on, it could never be cut down, or built on and it’s there for good,” says Coromandel East’s Helen Goldney, looking out towards the stringybark forest that runs along her property.

Helen and husband Rob purchased the 4.8-hectare property about 16 years ago. Their love of nature prompted them to enter into a Native Vegetation Heritage Agreement with the state government, protecting the property’s indigenous biodiversity in perpetuity, soon after.

Now, Heritage Agreement landholders like Helen and Rob – and aspiring Heritage Agreement owners – are encouraged to apply for two new state government grants aimed at revitalising the program and further improving native bushland and the species that depend on it.

“It’s really great that grants like this have been brought in,” Helen says of the $3 million Revitalising Private Conservation in South Australia program, which runs for the next two years.

Two grants are available. Applications for small grants (up to $10,000), which are aimed at achieving property-scale conservation outcomes that are quick and easy to execute, are open now until 5pm on Monday 5 October via the Nature Foundation website.

Examples of activities small grants might cover include developing and implementing a property-scale conservation plan; erecting fencing to exclude stock from areas of high-conservation value; or covering equipment and labour costs for weed or feral animal eradication.

Applications for large grants (more than $10,000 per applicant) – which help to achieve large-scale conservation outcomes, create corridors and connectivity between areas of private conservation, or achieve conservation outcomes on large parcels of land – will open in October.

The large grants will also encourage multiple Heritage Agreements to be included under one grant, covering submissions that include partnerships that aim to protect and restore conservation values across multiple properties.

Helen and Rob have experienced firsthand the benefits of working with other Heritage Agreement owners.

They’re part of a group of neighbouring Heritage Agreement landholders called the Woodcutters Road Environment Protection Association, which work together to protect and enhance native vegetation on each other’s properties.

“We have working bees together, so it’s a social thing too,” Helen chuckles.

“We’ve got a [biodiversity] corridor, in a sense, that goes from back there, through where we’re standing, across the road and all the way to Pole Road, which is about three or four kilometres as the crow flies,” Rob adds.

Biodiversity corridors are important because they allow animals to travel from one patch of bushland to another.

“We have kangaroos, echidnas, koalas and probably all sorts of tiny little things,” says Helen of the native wildlife on their property.

“People tell us there are native bandicoots a little further down the hill so they’re probably around here somewhere too.”

On top of protecting the state’s native vegetation, Heritage Agreement owners can receive a reduced valuation on their properties and subsequent reduction in particular rates and taxes.

There are currently 15 properties with Heritage Agreements in the City of Onkaparinga, including an agreement in council-owned Pimpala Reserve, Morphett Vale, and more private landholders across the region are encouraged to apply.

If you’re interested in protecting SA’s native bushland and your property meets certain requirements including its size and the species of plants and animals it contains, you can apply now at the Department for Environment and Water website, where you’ll also find eligibility info.

“We have so very little bushland left, so this is a way to protect it for good,” Helen says.

Established in South Australia in 1980, the Heritage Agreement program includes more than 1600 primary producer and conservation landholders, protecting an amazing diversity of landscapes and native plants and animals exceeding 1.5 million hectares on private land.

The Revitalising Private Conservation in South Australia program, established and funded by the South Australian Government, brings together South Australia’s leading environmental and agricultural producer organisations, including Conservation SA, Livestock SA, Nature Conservation Society of South Australia, and Trees For Life.

The program is led by the Nature Foundation as the principal delivery partner working closely with the Department for Environment and Water.

Scenes from the Goldney's property in Coromandel East.