Farmers are an essential part of protecting Victoria’s environment, and around three quarters of our conservation covenants occur in primary production landscapes. Across the last few years, Trust for Nature has been exploring how our covenant can better represent the needs of farmers through a ‘farm covenant’.
Like the conservation covenant, the farm covenant would be a voluntary on-title agreement between the Trust and landholder, but would seek to recognise, embed and protect best practice sustainable farm management practices, alongside conservation values. It may provide a range of benefits and opportunities for farmers, including protecting investments (revegetation, soil improvement, etc); supporting succession plans; retaining open space values; or helping to gain market access or premiums for produce sold off the land.
The attached report explores how a farm covenant could offer a permanent protection tool for sustainably managed farmland (chapter 5) and shares the results of an on-ground trial (chapter 6).
The report further shares findings on how different models for collective ownership can be applied to sustainably managed farmland, particularly in peri-urban landscapes which are under threat of development; and how these could help address challenges around food security and loss of productive landscapes.
The Trust has been supported to research and trial the farm covenant through a Biodiversity Innovation Grant from the Victorian Department of Environment, and an innovation grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. Please contact Cecilia Riebl if you would like to learn more or be involved in a trial: firstname.lastname@example.org.