Victorians leading the charge on protecting threatened wildlife over past 50 years
Victorian landholders have voluntarily protected more than 70,000 ha of habitat for wildlife permanently over the past 50 years through conservation charity Trust for Nature, safeguarding homes for at least 430 species of threatened animals and plants.
Since the organisation’s founding in 1972, Trust for Nature has established more than 1,600 conservation covenants – legally binding agreements that protect habitat on private land forever, even if the property is sold.
“I was a bit ahead of my time,” said Hans Fankhanel, who was one of the first Victorians to protect his 87 ha Otways property under a conservation covenant in 1988.
His land protects Mountain Ash forests, home to threatened species such as the carnivorous and nocturnal Otway Black Snail.
“I am very conscious of what happens after I’m gone. Eventually it will be sold but having the covenant and knowing the Trust will ensure it is being adhered to, is of great comfort.”
“Being able to protect the property with a covenant means that the hard work we’ve done has the chance to continue beyond us. We can be sure that even if the property is sold it will never be developed,” said Fiona Murdoch, whose 450 ha property Raakajlim on Latji Latji Country in the state’s north west has been protected with a covenant since 2009.
Fiona and her family have done extensive work to restore their property, which is home to critically endangered Pink Cockatoos and the endangered Mildura Ogyris Butterfly.
In 2022 Trust for Nature celebrates its 50th anniversary of protecting habitat for Victoria’s wildlife.
Including the organisation’s conservation reserves and properties subsequently transferred to the Crown, Trust for Nature has protected more than 110,000 ha in the last 50 years. The first conservation covenant was signed in 1985.
“The conservation outcomes that Trust for Nature has achieved are testament to the dedication of the Victorian community. We could not have achieved so much with the support of landholders, Traditional Owners, volunteers, donors and many partner organisations and the Victorian Government,” said Andrew Foran, Trust for Nature Acting CEO.
Among the threatened species protected by Trust for Nature are the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum and and Plains-wanderer, both priority species under the Australian Government’s new threatened species action plan.
“While national parks are very important, some species of animals and plants are highly dependent on habitat found on private land. The formation of Trust for Nature recognises how important protecting private land is for Victoria’s wildlife,” said Andrew.
At the first meeting of Trust for Nature in 1973 then Premier Rupert Hamer said he hoped that the organisation would be able to buy back land “that should never have been alienated”. As well as forming conservation covenants with landholders, Trust for Nature has also contributed more than 7,000 ha of habitat to the public reserve system, including parts of Mornington National Park, Churchill Island in Westernport Bay and the diverse Anglesea heathlands.
By 2025 Trust for Nature aims to protect another 35,000 ha of habitat for wildlife.
Trust for Nature is one of Australia’s oldest conservation organisations, established to protect habitat on private land. 2022 marks its 50th year. It is a non-profit, charitable, organisation that relies on the generosity of supporters to help protect Victoria’s biodiversity. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary, Trust for Nature is hosting a party at Abbotsford Convent on November 5.
Kathy Cogo, Communication and Media Manager, Trust for Nature, 0466 015 183 email@example.com.