The ecological dimension
Much of the decline of Australian biodiversity has occurred on private lands, where many of the major threats to biodiversity such as agricultural practices, grazing and clearing take place.
With this unprecedented and continuing decline in biodiversity, it is no longer sufficient to rely on public protected areas alone for biodiversity conservation.
As private landholders manage 77% of Australia’s land area, including some of Australia’s most important ecological areas, it is widely recognised that private land conservation is a crucial part of protecting Australia’s environmental assets.
The social dimension
The landholder community is central to the success of biodiversity conservation in Australia, and the social value of biodiversity on private lands should not be underestimated. Not only are private lands home to many iconic native species, and those highly valued by the community, but private lands play a central and defining role in indigenous cultures across Australia.
The economic dimension
Maintaining healthy ecosystems is important for the long-term viability of the goods and services that biodiversity provides, such as clean drinking water, nutrient recycling, soil retention and salinity control, pollination and seed dispersal, and carbon sequestration. These services are significant, and private land conservation offers great opportunities for linking conservation gains to production gains in the agricultural landscape.
The legal / regulatory dimension
Australia is a signatory to a number of international environmental conventions, including the Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar). In turn, the principles contained within these conventions relate to Australia’s national legal frameworks, strategies and processes that deal with biodiversity conservation, including the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and the National Reserve System Strategy.
Regulatory interventions such as these emphasise the importance of private lands for conserving biodiversity, as well as securing the core public conservation estate.