Three landholders in South Australia’s Mid North are set to see significant improvements in the condition of native vegetation on their properties through a new State Government biodiversity program.
The Biodiversity Credit Exchange gives eligible landholders access to funding to protect, manage and restore areas of native vegetation on their land in order to generate biodiversity credits.
These credits are then sold at cost to developers who are required to offset vegetation clearances in the same region, or to philanthropists who wish to support conservation action.
Native Vegetation Branch officers Zita Fewster and Alice Everitt from the Department for Environment and Water recently visited two Exchange sites in the Mid-North which revealed a rich diversity of native plant life thriving after stock exclusion, pest management and good rainfall.
Presiding Member of the Native Vegetation Council Emily Jenke said these are sites that were struggling last year due to lack of rainfall and grazing pressures and are now regenerating, with new growth, flowering and abundant native herbs coming up.
Mrs Jenke explained that earlier this year, the Native Vegetation Council approved tender bids for the conservation and management of the sites.
“In exchange, the Native Vegetation Council is now the ‘credit’ holder for 655 hectares of land at Willochra, 157 hectares near Mount Brown and 10 hectares near the Tothill Range,” she said.
“Collectively these sites protect eight diverse native vegetation types including River Red Gum riparian woodland, various mallee woodlands, Peppermint Box woodland and chenopod shrublands.
“With continued stock exclusion and control of threats, these large areas will become strongholds for conservation.”
The credit sites are now being managed by the landholders to conserve and improve the vegetation in perpetuity, with the support of an annual payment from the Native Vegetation Council over a 10-year management plan period.
Future management includes maintaining fences, control of total grazing pressure through pest control and kangaroo management, weed control and active revegetation of some areas that were degraded or cleared in the past.
Mrs Jenke explained that credits are based on a point score, derived using an assessment of the initial conservation value and condition of the vegetation at the site. When credit points are approved by the Native Vegetation Council, the management of that land must then significantly improve vegetation condition or extent.
The Department for Environment and Water administers the Biodiversity Credit Exchange and a general credit program that can be accessed by most landholders.