The conservation property guide What influences property selection for conservation revolving funds?

Increasing the amount of private land permanently protected for biodiversity, through agreements like conservation covenants, are an essential part of conservation policies around the world.

But finding sustainable ways to increase the total amount of private protected land is challenging.

One method is to use a “revolving fund” where land is purchased by a conservation organisation and then sold to environmentally-minded owners under the condition they enter into a permanent conservation covenant or easement. These are legally binding agreements that restrict the owner from undertaking activities that damage the property’s ecological values, such as clearing native vegetation.

Revolving fund diagram. Source: Queensland Trust for Nature

The proceeds from the property sale are then used to purchase, protect, and sell additional land, creating a continuous investment cycle and incrementally increasing the amount of private land under protection.

As one could imagine, the success of this approach relies heavily on selecting the right properties.

In a recent paper, researchers from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions explored the factors practitioners consider when selecting revolving fund properties, and how these influence their decision making.

The research, led by Mat Hardy, conducted exploratory, semi-structured interviews with managers from the five major revolving funds in Australia;

  • the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW (now the Biodiversity Conservation Trust)
  • Queensland Trust for Nature
  • Nature Foundation SA
  • Tasmanian Land Conservancy
  • Trust for Nature (Victoria)
These organisations collectively have revolved more than 155 properties and protected more than 145,000 hectares of private land.

The research found that while conservation factors are important, financial and social factors are also highly influential in property selection. Of particular concern to managers is resale – making sure the property is able to be resold, at a price that replenishes the fund. To increase the prospect for resale, managers often look for properties where the new owners could construct a dwelling.

In the decision-making process, practitioners must trade-off between conservation, financial, amenity, and other factors, and in doing so, face some tricky challenges: recovering the costs of property acquisition, protection, resale, and of course meeting conservation goals.

The researchers suggest the above complexities may constrain the application of revolving fund programs, but also find that managers have developed some constructive responses to these challenges. The paper outlines some of these strategies - such as regularly assessing what the buyers of these properties are looking for, and ensuring covenants provide an appropriate balance between conservation, amenity and recreation values (without endangering ecological assets).

A revolving fund property up for sale in rural Victoria, Australia. Photo: Mat Hardy.

As each of the revolving fund programs operate in similar ways, the researchers suggest that a shared‐learning approach could assist managers in property selection. Managers could use their collective experience to work through these complexities and continually improve property selection.

Whilst the need for property resale means revolving funds are unlikely to be appropriate in all situations, the ability to recover costs suggests this tool is a useful part of the conservation policy mix. Shedding light on which properties are suitable will help improve the performance of this unique approach to conservation.

Mathew J. Hardy, James A. Fitzsimons, Sarah A. Bekessy, Ascelin Gordon

RMIT PhD candidate Mat Hardy

For for information: Mathew Hardy, mat.hardy@rmit.edu.au

Media: CEED Communications, Casey Fung, +61 433 638 643, c.fung@uq.edu.au


Created with images by Quangpraha - "farm the morning sơnla" • credondo - "countryside landscape australia" • Lochie Blanch - "untitled image"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.