Landholders and Offsets
Downes Family Farm at Brownlow Hill
The Downes Family Farm in Camden NSW is a dairy farm owned and operated by the family for five generations. Prior to discovering biobanking, the Downes family farm was struggling. They faced the choice between going broke farming or realising the capital value of their land. Eventually, the family decided land conservation could be a means of securing the property's financial viability and provide them another farming activity option.
The Downes discovered that being offered a biobanking program was like being thrown a lifeline after years of drought. The NSW Government’s BioBanking Scheme has enabled Mr Downes to keep their Brownlow Hill family farm for his family while continuing to use the farm for multiple purposes including grazing cattle, generating biodiversity credits and holding music festivals.
They established a 23-hectare biobank site on the southern part of their property which is dominated by critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland. The property was soon able to generate biodiversity credits and provide compensation for preserving the land in perpetuity. Within five months, the Downes successfully traded those credits on the open market. Building on their initial success, they registered a second biobank site on their property generating further biodiversity credits.
The sale of the credits gives landowners revenue that can then be used to conserve environmentally sensitive sites on a permanent basis. For example, while still farming the river flats, Mr Downes is removing invasive, non-indigenous species and allowing the regeneration of natural vegetation in an area that is a critically threatened ecosystem.
Image: Farmer, Edgar Downes, pointing out the location of his BioBank offset site to Ms Ganjuurjav Erdenebayasgalan from the Mongolia Department of Environment and Natural Resources (photo credit: Jack Whelan, FFI).
Source: Flora & Fauna International
Mount Hercules on the Razorback Range, Wollondilly
Graeme Kirk is extremely proud of his 300 hectares of land at Wollondilly on the south-western outskirts of Sydney, NSW. A keen advocate of the region, Graeme uses his property for grazing sheep and protecting native bushland.
Using the NSW Government's BioBanking Scheme, Graeme continues his sheep grazing while at the same time generating saleable credits by setting aside land to preserve endangered plants, animals and ecosystems on parts of his property that is not suitable for grazing.
Graeme established a biobanking agreement, purchasing 229 credits for $1.7 million. Under the arrangement, Graeme restores and maintains the bushland, while receiving annual payments in perpetuity to fund these activities and to monitor and report on the outcomes.
Using funds from the biobanking management payments, Graeme has established a track to ensure safe access to the biobank site, installed fencing and netted the site to protect it from rabbits and hares. He has also engaged a contractor to drill, poison and spray the weeds on his property over a two year period.
While his focus is on biobanking's conservation values, Graeme acknowledges that the compensation package has helped even out income from the property. Graeme discovered that the biobanking scheme helped keep the broader holding viable by reducing pressure on looking for alternative uses for land with high conservation values.
Image: The road to Mt Hercules biobank site was upgraded so it could be accessed for undertaking management actions including fire management and weed control. Source: OEH.