Managing land for integrated landscape outcomes - Steve Matthews


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Managing land for integrated landscape outcomes - Steve Matthews

  1. 1. Managing land for integrated landscape outcomes Steve Mathews 16th February 2011 Climate change research strategy for primary industries conference
  2. 2. The story so far…• Not primarily a farmer – but part of the story• Biodiversity and landscape conservation• Integrated landscape management and sustainable use of land• Multiple values, multiple uses• Many different regions, landscapes, communities, neighbours• Driven by passion and initially speculative
  3. 3. What I have tried to do• Purchase properties with high conservation values• Manage these to protect and enhance the values, permanently• Develop a model which pays its way (interest, management)• Therefore income generation vital – a range of options
  4. 4. Discuss…• the enterprise• the model• how tracking• some of the principles• some observations
  5. 5. The enterprise• 12 properties, many titles• 5,500 ha approx• 8 bioregions from SA border to NSW border in far northeast• Approx 60-70 Ecological Vegetation Classes• Wide variety of threatened flora and fauna• Range from mix of pasture and bushland, incorporating former agricultural land, regenerating bush, through to original bushland
  6. 6. Relevance of climate change• Driving changes in landuse, management and primary production• Influences how manage for biodiveristy and landscape values• Driving changes in policy
  7. 7. Land selection for biodiversity and landscape benefits and returns• Size: bigger is better• Biodiversity values: priority species, communities, assets• Important contribution to ecological processes• Proximity to other bush especially reserves• Connectivity including along waterways• Diversity of habitats• Presence of water bodies, including riparian environments• High in catchment (less vulnerable to influence of others actions)• Manageability• Low level weed and vermin• Bargain• Resale value• Landscape based tourism opportunities• Access to management services• Adequate boundary fencing with stocked neighbours
  8. 8. Maximizing ‘capturable’ biodiversity value• align with public policy eg connectivity, riparian, priority species and assets• identify where policy supported by incentives and markets• hope the policies, incentives, market mechanisms get it right – do they correctly identify the priority biodiversity and ecological assets, and the actions for real gains?
  9. 9. Taking a punt – they created a market• No market for ecosystem services when began – only for ‘bush block’ fans• Vic govt created a market for public goods (biodiversity, catchment, carbon) by - regulation: Native Vegetation Management Framework (‘avoid, minimize, offset’), s52.17 VPPs - purchase of ‘public good’ from private sector suppliers, using ‘tender’ mechanism (eg BushTender)• Standards needed on actions and outcomes to guarantee services delivered - recognized in White Paper, draft Victorian Biodiversity Strategy
  10. 10. Activities undertaken• Pastoralism - cattle fattening, agistment, leasing and sharefarming - sheep agistment and leasing• Landscape-based tourism - rent houses• Rental (long-term tenants) - houses - sheds• Ecosystem services - BushTender
  11. 11. Have rejected:• quarrying - granite slabs on exposed rock faces – rare species• timber harvesting - fenceposts and firewood - full logging and pulping operations• grazing of forest and high conservation-value grassy vegetation• subdivision and sale for rural residential
  12. 12. Under development• Sustainable forestry - high-pruned blackwoods naturally regenerating in fields and forest - salvage of large old trees fallen in paddocks - plantations of highly durable, engineering grade, fast growing eucalypts (E. bosistoana)• Carbon-neutral arts and music festival - 5000 people - landscape based - percentage to biodiversity and landscape restoration, incorporating biodiverse, locally indigenous plantings for carbon offsets - opportunities for participation in landscape restoration• Urban fringe residential development – zoned residential; 50% of the site into reserve
  13. 13. Best project• 580 acres rare vegetation in East Gippsland• Some paddock and infrastructure• BushTender payment over 6 years• Lease 50 acre paddock (management included)• Lease shed• 6 year payback cost plus interest• Significant capital appreciation (300%)• Opportunity for future biodiversity services payments• Other properties have yet to yield
  14. 14. Opportunities – where is it going?• Ecosystem services payments - eg biodiversity, carbon sequestration - incentive and market-based schemes - strongly supported in biodiversity strategies - Victoria: BushTender, CarbonTender, EcoTender, etc• Offsets under NVMF - price $13,000 – 293,000/hha depending on bioregion - average price across bioregions ranges from $35,000 to $179,000 - small amount traded to date through BB - 234 hha (other trades independent of BB) - this may represent 1000-1500 ha actual land area protected.
  15. 15. Opportunities – where is it going?• Biodiverse plantings and restoration – eg connectivity driven• Destocking – carbon credits for removing or not running stock - problem of setting baseline stocking rate: do you overload the property to set the baseline higher? Perverse outcome… so set on assessed carrying capacity
  16. 16. Management: setting objectives for realistic outcomesWhat do we use as benchmark?• ‘Pre-European’? - do we know really what that was? - dynamic nature of ecosystems: they weren’t set in stone - conditions have changed: hydrology, flora, fauna, soil - climate change: may never see the same climatic conditions again
  17. 17. Management: setting objectives for realistic outcomesSo what do we want?• Manage to maintain maximum range for future: - evolution of flora, fauna and biological - communities in situ - contribution to ecological processes - ecologically sustainable economic uses - avoid permanent loss of primary productive capacity (system may slip permanently less complex, less productive)
  18. 18. Management: setting objectives for realistic outcomes• Manage for priority species, communities and ecological process (eg threatened spp, crucial ecosystem services)• Review projected climate change in area, adjust strategy - eg choose species or communities from locality with range of tolerances: ‘ecotonal’ cf ‘purist’ approach in restoration, reveg• Expert assistance vital to get biodiversity right
  19. 19. Management: setting objectives for realistic outcomes• Revegetation - secondary to protection of remnants - assist connectivity (risks eg vermin, fire) - must be biodiverse and non-weedy, local - may have to accept lower C-seq - must assist with priority assets
  20. 20. Management: setting objectives for realistic outcomesWater• increased demand for water (flora, fauna, us)• include riparian habitats, wetlands, swamps, springs, soaks• avoid plantations, drainage, extraction impacting on these• include flora and fauna design features in property water systems• exclude stock from waterbodies• dam design to minimize evaporative losses (eg deep, sheltered, shaded)• groundwater extraction may limit evaporative losses and excess groundwater interception cf dams• manage groundwater extraction so sustainable
  21. 21. Benefits for local farming community• Grazing opportunities for locals seeking feed eg drought (high price, get their cooperation)• Employment and income through providing ecological management services
  22. 22. Attitude changeCan contribute to change in attitude towards conservationmanagement:• Neighbour One: - ISO 14001 - fenced all native vegetation, waterbodies and dams; - stewardship and offset payments for bush; - now contracting ecological management services• Neighbour Two: - BushTender: from ‘wouldn’t do it on principle’ to ‘how do I get it?’ (more secure, reliable; less risk, outlay, inputs, and work than cattle)
  23. 23. Conclusions• Opportunities and markets are developing• Still highly speculative• It helps if you really love it• Lots to work out yet – research, standards, protocols, are actions delivering real gains• flexible strategies responding to research, new knowledge and opportunities• Requires landscape scale, cross tenure, c’ty