What is private land conservation?

Private land conservation occurs where a private landholder manages some or all of their land for biodiversity, nature or wildlife conservation purposes.

In NSW, a landholder can become involved in private land conservation by entering a private land conservation agreement with the Minister or the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) over some or all of their land under Part 5 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (the Act). Landholders can also become involved via schemes run by non-government organisations (e.g. Land for Wildlife or Wildlife Land Trust).

Private land conservation and private protected areas differ from public protected areas such as nature reserves, wilderness areas or national parks that are managed by a public agency, such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service in NSW.

What is a protected area?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines a protected area as ‘a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.’

A biodiversity stewardship agreement or a permanent conservation agreement under the Act meet the IUCN definition of a protected area.

Term or revocable agreements under the Act or private land managed under non-government schemes are also important forms of private land conservation that contribute to biodiversity conservation even though they do not meet the IUCN definition of a protected area.

Private land conservation in NSW

In NSW, there are three types of private land conservation agreements, which have different purposes. There are also several historical types of private land conservation agreements that continue to have legal effect under NSW law. Find out more about different types of agreements here

In NSW, choosing to participate in private land conservation is voluntary. However, if a landholder and the BCT enter an in-perpetuity agreement, that agreement takes the form of a permanent legal covenant on the title of the land that binds the NSW Government and the successors in title (except in exceptional circumstances allowed in the Act). 

In NSW, landholders can become involved in private land conservation in various ways. They may choose to apply for a voluntary conservation agreement or to participate in one of the BCT’s fixed price offers or conservation tenders. Alternatively, they may purchase a property that already has a conservation agreement in place. To find out more, go to the BCT’s get involved pages.