GB CMA Bush Returns Program showing results

Monday 11 February, 2008
Landholders receiving almost $875,000 from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GB CMA) to regenerate vegetation on their own land as part of the Bush Returns* Program are seeing results.

Landholders receiving almost $875,000 from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GB CMA) to regenerate vegetation on their own land as part of the Bush Returns* Program are seeing results.

An allowance to the value of $875,000 is being payed to 22 Landholders within the Goulburn Broken Catchment over a 5 or 10 year period to restore and regenerate** vegetation on their land.

The program started in 2004 and landholders are now starting to see evidence of their commitment to managing these areas for conservation.

John Clark a landholder at Murrindindi, and an active participant in the Bush Returns Program said he is now seeing his land regenerate despite the drought.

"I fenced my site almost 3 years ago and I have not had any stock on that land. Now there are quite a few seedlings coming up. I am excited that I am seeing the evidence.

"Other properties around me are covered in dirt and dust from stock destroying vegetation. My property has flourishing top soil as I have 100 acres fenced from stock and managed for weeds as part of the program."

GB CMA representative Miss Carla Miles said in spite of unfavourable climatic conditions regeneration is occurring.

"While the success of tree regeneration is variable, properties like John's are also seeing the benefits of increased ground cover, particular of native perennial grasses."

"One of the benefits of having long-term management agreements with landholders is allowing a realistic timeframe for outcomes to be achieved. At least one good summer rainfall event should occur over a period of 10 years," said Miss Miles.

"The Bush Returns program involves paying landholders to actively manage their land, in most cases for 10 years, with the intent of naturally regenerating native vegetation across large areas."

Libby Kellock, a Bush Returns participant from Lake Rowan said without the incentive of the periodic payments and management plans it would have been easy to graze this 150 acre area as desired and forget about conservation and regeneration and just put a few tree guards around regenerating areas.

"During the drought the ground cover has been good, with no erosion and some of the trees are regenerating. As a family, we hope to learn from our experience and from the input of the GBCMA staff and researchers that monitor the site, we believe that the Bush Returns process ensures that native vegetation is cost effectively managed and as property owners we are being satisfactorily reimbursed."

Increases in the extent and condition of native vegetation are needed across many of our landscapes to meet natural resource targets set by the catchment community to reduce loss of biodiversity and water quality, alleviate salinity, and achieve greenhouse gas reduction.

Release Ends

For more information please contact Carla Miles on 5820 1137 or Stacey Brauman at Impress Publicity on 0400 644 637

* Bush Returns is an incentive program to achieve large scale increases of native vegetation on private land. Landholders have been given ongoing management payments (over 5 or 10 years) to regenerate their land. The benefits are that landholders can get funds to regenerate their land and the condition of the Goulburn Broken Catchment is improved.

In October 2004, the first round of ‘Bush Returns' was launched and was delivered in the mid section of the Catchment. Almost $127,000 was committed to 4 landholders to manage 168 hectares for natural regeneration.

Round 2 of the Program began in April 2005 with approximately $650,000 extended to the entire Goulburn Broken Catchment. Because of the increased target area, budget and awareness of the program, landholder interest and participation was significantly higher than in Round 1, with 150 enquiries, 95 expressions of interest, 56 management plans prepared and 32 valid bids. 17 bids, totalling 517 ha were successful. As most management plans are 10 years in duration, there are many years of collective management secured.

** Natural regeneration refers to the natural process by which plants replace or re-establish themselves. Natural regeneration is a powerful tool for anyone wishing to re-establish vegetation on a property at minimum cost. The social and economic future of our environment depends on healthy ecosystems. To tackle issues such as biodiversity decline and salinity, one of the challenges is to increase the extent of native vegetation at a larger scale and more quickly. Encouraging natural regeneration is considered to be a cost effective means of achieving this acceleration, and Bush Returns has been developed to test this approach. In many cases grazing from livestock and competition by weeds prevent natural regeneration. The removal or management of these factors will enable regeneration of natural vegetation.