ONE third of a prominent southern NSW property has been set aside for land conservation in a move designed to help both the environment and long-term farming.
Woomargama Station now has a covenant placed on 600 hectares to protect an area of box gum woodland, a type of ecological community that has been cleared so much it is listed as critically endangered.
Under the agreement with the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW, this parcel of land has a management plan for its ongoing care.
Clare Cannon, who runs Woomargama Station with her husband Andrew, said the covenant came into effect about a month ago but they had worked towards the change for a number of years.
“I feel it was just a really important legacy for future generations, if you like,” she said. “I also believe in the future these wild places will actually be the most valuable part of the property.”
Mrs Cannon said the management plan, which stipulated no clearing or cropping, only grazing for six months a year and not over the summer, fitted well into their present operations.
“Although it is a third of the property, it is, from a farming perspective, pretty marginal country, so it has low carrying capacity,” she said.
Nature Conservation Trust chief executive Gary Wells said protected areas added value to the rest of a farm.
“Improved soil fertility, dealing with salinity issues, shelter for stock and recycling of nutrients are just some of the ways that nature can assist in the farming process,” Mr Wells said.
The trust said NSW faced significant biodiversity loss, creating a need for landholders to help protect the state’s ecosystems.
Mrs Cannon said running a profitable business could co-exist with environmental sustainability, for example a recent wool sale noted their merinos had grazed on the protected land.
“The wool buyers really found this a point of difference,” she said.
“The provenance of the wool and the environmental aspects of wool production are very important in Europe, so I see it very much as adding to the brand, rather than detracting from the brand.”