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