Land tax exemption for covenanted land in Victoria from 1 January 2024
Trust for Nature applauds the Victorian Government’s decision to remove a significant barrier for private investment into conservation, whilst simultaneously recognising the importance and value of permanent protection.
From 1 January 2024, land protected with a covenant through Trust for Nature will be exempt from land tax in Victoria.
Conservation covenants are voluntary legal agreements made between a landholder and Trust for Nature under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act 1972 to protect land with natural, cultural or scientific values. Conservation covenants provide important protection for unique habitats across Victoria, including woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, generally by limiting activities that may have a negative impact on the conservation values of the land, such as clearing, intensive farming or subdivision.
Trust for Nature expects this historic exemption to significantly increase the appetite of Victorian landholders to help contribute to much needed protection of conservation on private land in Victoria.
Corinne Proske, the CEO of Trust for Nature, said the change is 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,” Corinne 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.”
By placing permanent protection on private land through a conservation covenant, landholders can help contribute to Australia’s efforts in reaching the global “30×30” target, which aims to ensure at least 30% of Earth’s land and waterways are protected by 2030. Protecting more private land can also support Victoria’s Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 plan, which presents a long-term vision for halting the decline of Victoria’s native plants and animals and improving the natural environment.
Currently, only 22% 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%. Given around two-thirds of the State is privately owned, private land will play a critical role in securing the future of our unique ecosystems and species and help meet global and local targets to protect biodiversity.
As the catastrophic impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, protecting and restoring biodiversity has never been more urgent. Ecosystems across land, water and sea are natural carbon sinks, which help absorb human induced greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise would have gone into the atmosphere. As of 2022, properties protected with conservation covenants and Trust for Nature’s reserves store about 4.2 million tonnes of carbon.
There are already 1600+ properties protected through conservation covenants across Victoria. Trust for Nature hopes that with these changes to land tax, some of the financial pressures relating to conservation on private land will be alleviated and more individuals will protect unique habitat on their properties forever.