ABC Landline - Capitalising on Conservation

Cattle and wool farmer places land under conservation to attract 'high end' buyers

Posted by ABC on February 24, 2017

The owner of one of Australia's oldest pastoral stations believes a recent decision to protect a third of her property with a conservation covenant will eventually increase the value of the farm and its produce.

Clare Cannon inherited historic Woomargama Station near Holbrook in New South Wales, which was first developed in 1838.

Her parents Gordon and Margaret Darling bought the 1,800 hectare farm more than 50 years ago and late last year she placed a third of the property under a conservation agreement with the Nature Conservation Trust (NCT).

It means she cannot ever clear the land and must manage its endangered boxgum woodlands according to the agreement with the Trust.

"I think in the short term people might see this as maybe a little bit of a risky move but in the long term I think this area of the property will be the jewel in the crown of the property even from a capital value," she said.

Woomargama produces grass fed beef from a 1,000 head herd of poll Hereford cattle and runs about 7,500 fine wool merino sheep.

Under the terms of the covenant she is able to graze her stock in the protected area to help control exotic plants and weeds.

Covenant a 'win win' for farming, biodiversity The NCT's chief executive officer Gary Wells said the covenants had to work with farmers.

"We're not looking to lock up land, it's very much about finding a happy medium where it works for both biodiversity and the farming operation and in fact bringing cattle in here under an appropriate regime actually looks after the biodiversity here rather than being detrimental to it, so it's actually a win-win for the farming and the biodiversity," Mr Wells said.

Ms Cannon believed export markets would pay a premium for her produce based on the farm's environmental credentials.

"We produce grass fed only beef which has quite stringent accreditation so we put the steers in this country quite a lot so it's actually a symbiotic relationship between the cattle and this country," she said.

"We've also put that Nature Conservation Trust label on our wool saying that from time to time the sheep that produce the wool that we sell graze in this covenant country managed by the Nature Conservation Trust and that's certainly provided quite a high level of interest from wool buyers particularly in Europe but also the Chinese buyers," Ms Cannon said.

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