Tax concessions are now available to farmers who set aside blocks of land under a Trust for Nature covenant.

From January 1, land protected with a covenant will be exempt from land tax in Victoria.

The Byrnes family — who run a cropping, grazing and sheep farm near Barmah — have three covenanted blocks, totalling about 30 hectares, one adjoining the nearby Barmah National Park.

Sharon Byrnes said the blocks had attracted the endangered grey-crowned babblers and vulnerable superb parrots, as well as a host of other bird and animal life including goannas.

She believes the new tax concession may make the covenanting process more attractive and hopes more people will consider setting aside land for nature.

She said the concessions were appropriate because farmers couldn’t use the land to generate income.

Conservation covenants are voluntary legal agreements, made between a landholder and Trust for Nature under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act, to protect land with natural, cultural or scientific values.

This block has become a home for threatened bird species, near Barmah.

Trust for Nature chief executive officer Corinne Proske said the change was a win-win for landholders and nature alike.

“We know that there are thousands of landholders across Victoria who are passionate about nature and want to take practical steps to make a positive impact on biodiversity in their own backyard,” Ms Proske said.

“This tax exemption now creates a real incentive for these individuals or families to take action and explore protecting their property with a conservation covenant.

“We expect this historic exemption to significantly increase the appetite of Victorian landholders to contribute to much needed protection of biodiversity on private land in Victoria.“

Currently, only 22 per cent of Australia’s land area is protected through national and state parks, Indigenous protected areas and private reserves; in Victoria that number is even lower at just 17 per cent.

Ms Proske said that given around two-thirds of the state is privately owned, private land will play a critical role in securing the future of unique ecosystems and species and help meet global and local targets to protect biodiversity.

“Plus, protecting biodiversity goes hand-in-hand with fighting climate change — with ecosystems across land, water and sea providing natural carbon sinks, helping absorb human induced greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise go into the atmosphere.”

Funds to help protect birds

Landholders on Victoria’s northern plains can now receive financial incentives for helping fight the extinction of the critically endangered plains-wanderer bird.

Trust for Nature, in partnership with the North Central Catchment Management Authority, is offering $1000 per hectare to landholders who protect their grassland to provide suitable habitat for the native bird.

Because of habitat clearing and cultivation there are fewer than 1000 individuals of this unique species left in the wild.

For more information about either of these incentives, go to: