On 31st August, the Australian Government announced that the South West (SWCC) NRM of WA has been chosen as one of only six regions to take part in a $22.3 million Enhanced Remnant Vegetation Pilot, which will see farmers being paid for biodiversity benefits arising from managing their existing native vegetation.
With 55% of Australia’s land used for agriculture, farmers have a unique opportunity to act as environmental stewards. However, management of remnant vegetation adds operational costs without directly generating income. The Pilot, developed under the Australian Government’s wider $66 million Agriculture Stewardship Package, will trial a new market-based approach which allows farmers to be paid for protecting and enhancing native vegetation improve biodiversity.
The Pilot program, being developed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Australian National University, aims ultimately to attract private sector investment to provide farmers with a sustainable diversified income stream. Fencing, replanting, weed and pest control are among the activities that will be funded under the Pilot scheme.
South West Catchments Council (SWCC), the South West region’s peak natural resource management organisation, will assist with the development of processes and protocols to ensure that requirements of the Pilot are suited to the region’s unique environment. SWCC CEO Sally Wilkinson said: ““The South West is a global biodiversity hotspot but many of our unique ecosystems are under threat. Retaining and addressing the health of remnant vegetation in our farmed landscape is crucial and we welcome this Australian Government initiative that rewards the efforts of farmers as environmental stewards.”
Farmers interested in finding out more about the Pilot program can visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website here.
The Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, Hon David Littleproud MP, released a statement on the Enhanced Remnant Vegetation Pilot, which can be accessed here.