Hamiltons practice sustainable grazing on Narromine property

At first glance the concept of allowing livestock to graze on conservation areas seems counter-intuitive.   


However, with proper guidelines in place, grazing can be an appropriate conservation management tool to conserve and enhance biodiversity in native grassland and grassy woodland ecosystems.

The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) has guidelines for incorporating livestock grazing on conservation agreement sites, with management plans based on site needs and conditions. Consistent monitoring by the landholder and BCT tracks how native species respond to stock in the conservation agreement area. 

The Narromine property of graziers Col and Bev Hamilton is a working example of how land can be managed for conservation while maintaining and even improving the production capacity of grazing land. 

Sustainable farming

The couple developed an interest in sustainable farming in the late 2000s and started exploring high intensity rotational grazing. 

In 2019 they put in a bid to the Central West Rivers conservation tender, and subsequently entered a funded conservation agreement on 160 hectares of their property.  

Speaking at our Livestock Grazing as a Conservation Management Tool webinar, Col and Bev shared how they work with the BCT to manage the area within the guidelines of their agreement, and what it has meant for their business. 

"Under the agreement we can still graze strategically," Col said. 

"It has taken up the slack for the grazing we might otherwise have had. On top of that I think the plus will be in a dry period, where we can't graze it because we haven't had the regrowth but are still getting that financial reward.  

"It's a regular income that's removing the peaks and trough of climate vulnerability." 

BCT officers work with individual landholders to determine if grazing is a viable management tool for their conservation area. Where grazing is suitable, a site appropriate grazing strategy is developed to provide key rest periods to allow for seed set and germination of native species. 

For more information about grazing to support conservation see our conservation management guidelines