Why doesn’t our Council recognise, value and respect bushland habitat located on privately owned land?
I’m often approached and asked by landowners how they can protect their land from this Councils plan for overdevelopment.
The solution I offer isn’t a solution that this Council offers at all……but it should.
Voluntary Conservation Agreements (VCA) are a way of conserving natural heritage.
Through a VCA program our council should be supporting landholders who want to permanently protect significant areas of their privately owned bushland.
A VCA program fosters partnerships through an agreement between a landholder and Council to conserve the natural values of the land.
As a property owner, VCA can conserve natural values without affecting property ownership rights.
For landholders who spend considerable time and money restoring their bushland, a VCA provides security that their conservation area is protected in perpetuity.
Conserving wildlife habitat on private land helps:
> contribute to the survival of plants and animals which are dependent on particular habitats.
> provide links between isolated conservation reserves allowing for wildlife movement.
> provide greater security for endangered species and ecosystems.
How to give recognition to an agreement
A conservation covenant is the legal mechanism used to permanently protect the portion of the property covered by the VCA.
It is then registered under the Queensland Land Title Act 1994.
Conservation covenants place conditions on the title that run with the land.
These conditions protect vegetation and wildlife habitat.
Covenants are binding on title and on any future owners.
Council would meet the costs of surveying the portion of the land to be covered and the cost of preparing the necessary agreement.
Council would then also provide ongoing support via grants and providing resources to ensure that an Environmental Management Plan is in place over the protected land.
The land remains under private ownership and there is no grant to a right of public access, areas can be left exempt from the agreement for farming, grazing or open space and it would be an entirely voluntary process.
I absolutely agree with the suggestion that Council should also publish and maintain a register of landowners who are offering up land as koala habitat revegetation or offset areas for developers to offset impacts.
This enables the protection of the land, provides a basis for a green exchange economy, gives developers greater certainty to access to land for offsetting.
This VCA proposal does more than just open up a one off grants process…..it places our Council in the proactive driver seat for establishing covenants over land and providing ongoing support to landowners.
For landowners who want a mechanism to protect their land from development forever this might just be that solution.