Partnering In Private Land Conservation: Reinvigorating PLC on the Mid Coast

Private Land Conservation remains a hot topic across the state but with the support of the Partnering in Private Land Conservation (PLC) Project, the team at Mid Coast to Tops Landcare Connection are offering support and guidance to conservation holders in partnership with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

“After decades of bouncing around different agencies, our team have taken all private land conservation agreement holders under our wing, to offer advice, resources and community,” says Regional Landcare Coordinator, Jessica Leck.

“Over the years, various government restructures and reallocations of resources has created a void for overall oversight of PLC on the Mid Coast. Each active agency plays a role, and cares for their own agreement holders, however some agreement holders, such as historic and smaller scale properties, were being left behind. In addition, the under resourced nature of the natural resource management industry meant that even the well served agreement holders were going years without engagement or follow ups.

Mid Coast to Tops Landcare Private Land Conservation Project Officer, Isabelle Strachan agrees, saying PLC holders wanted and needed support through all their activities, whether through funded programs or to just access support and guidance.

“There’s fantastic potential of creating a PLC community. One example of how private conservation works is Landcare for Wildlife. Land for Wildlife is one program that was underserved, partly due to the lack of any funding to support its delivery. Most agreement holders in our region had not been supported locally since their initial inspection. In addition. our region has historic Property Vegetation Plan agreement holders, who were signed up by agencies that no longer exist!”

Jessica says the Partnering In Private Land Conservation Project, the Landcare NSW partnership project with the BCT, enabled the gap identified by Mid Coast to Tops to be filled through the project.

“When Landcare NSW offered an opportunity to partner with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust, we recognised this as an opportunity to fill this gap in PLC community service. By aligning closely with their recently shared Biodiversity Framework, we were able to source co-funding through our local council, Mid Coast Council. The combination of these funding sources enabled us to open up the program to our wider community of landholders, with no stringent criteria, inline with the ethos of our Landcare community.

“In 2021, Mid Coast 2 Tops Landcare hired our first Private Land Conservation Officer, Isabelle Strachan, who is responsible to fostering a community of practice for all conservation-minded landholders across the Mid Coast. Isabelle runs monthly workshops addressing areas of interest for the community, while offering individual property visits for agreement holders. These visits include a walk of the property, advice on management, and a complimentary property report, summarising the discussions they have had.

“In her first 8 months, Isabelle has made 38 property visits, and hosted 10 workshops, with over 130 people in attendance combined. Given the constraints of weather and covid during this period, these numbers far exceeded expected outcomes, and show the desire for this kind of program in our community. We are so proud and thrilled that we have been able to achieve this and more through this program and it really highlights that there is an appetite and want for these kinds of projects and support in our area,” says Jessica.

Feedback from one of the participants who attended a past event organised by Isabelle, Killabakh Eucalypt ID day said: “Thank you so much for holding the event. Learning from highly knowledgeable experts is invaluable as well as connecting with like minded people.”

In coming months, Isabelle will host an event to celebrate the 100th Land For Wildlife agreement within our area. This number is a result of combined effort from stakeholders, our local landcare coordinators and our PLC program to increase awareness, support and reinvigorate interest in private land conservation in our region.

Landcare NSW is working in partnership with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) to raise awareness and support for private land conservation efforts across the state.

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