Urban and Regional Conservation stimulus

A red sandy desert

The Opportunity

More than 70 conservation, land management and farming organisations have come together across Australia to support a Conservation Stimulus proposal that would create thousands of new jobs in delivering practical conservation and land management activities across the country.

The proposal outlines a $4 billion national conservation and land management program, with $200m invested in WA. Nationally this would generate 2000 direct and indirect full-time jobs and long-term economic benefits worth $440m in long term economic benefits.

The Conservation Stimulus addresses a historic underfunding of Natural Resource Management (NRM) funding, where only 20% of projects have been being funded.

WA’s 7 NRM Regions and Landcare Network have put forward detailed, shovel ready priority areas for funding across the whole of WA and can also play a lead role coordination and delivery of on-ground works. The projects have been developed to leverage existing programs and capacity and provide seasonal, scalable and flexible work for all skill levels.

The projects include:

  1. Northern Agricultural region projects including as seed collection teams with Aboriginal rangers, coast care, community weeding along waterways and regenerative agriculture (50+ jobs)
  2. Peel-Harvey Catchment projects including greening farms (100,000 seedlings planted), feral animal control, native seed banks, coastal weed and erosion control and restoring river health. (40 jobs)
  3. Rangelands region projects including sustainable livestock production, native seed collection, landscape -scale rehydration works, and prescribed burning that will employ more than 300 indigenous people
  4. South Coast region projects including restoring coastal habitats, seed collection and propagation with Aboriginal ranger teams, indigenous cultural site protection and weed and feral animal control (100+ jobs)
  5. South West Catchments projects including wheatbelt salt remediation and linkage, fire reduction, water quality, eco-tourism trails and bushfire recovery (400+ jobs);
  6. Wheatbelt region projects such as seed collection, river rat teams, feral animal control ranger teams, intensive weeding along waterways and in listed TECs and knowledge brokers (300+ jobs)
  7. Perth region projects including bushfire recovery, revegetation and tree planting, RAMSAR wetland habitat restoration works, dune repair along Perth’s coast, and river and creek line restoration (500+ jobs)

In addition, the Urban Bushland Council, representing over 70 local groups has proposed a Perth & Peel Science and Conservation Stimulus proposal outlining over 150 jobs in the following priority areas:

  1. Bush Forever management and protection (5 scientists in DBCA + 100 on ground bush-carers)
  2. A Forrestdale Education/Visitor Centre and DBCA base (14FTE)
  3. Employ scientists in the Threatened Species and Communities & Weed Science branches of DBCE and establish an ongoing group for Banksia Woodlands and Tuart Woodlands TECs (50FTE)
  4. Bushfire rehabilitation and fire risk management (20FTE)
  5. Fund the Saving Rare Orchids project proposal (10FTE)

The Proposal

  1. State and Commonwealth Governments commit $200m funding to commence the Conservation Stimulus projects delivered via the seven WA NRM Regions and the WA Landcare Network.
  2. Support the Perth and Peel Science and conservation Jobs stimulus proposal developed by the Urban Bushland council.

At least 2000 full-time jobs could be funded through the Conservation Stimulus package in Western Australia.

A 2020 report by Ernst and Young found funding geographically targeted landcare and conservation programs of between $500m-$4 billion could raise economic output by up to $5.7 billion while avoiding up to $620 million in welfare costs.

Case Study - New Zealand’s Environment Jobs stimulus

This year, New Zealand went big with a $1.1 billion ‘Environment Jobs’ stimulus package to create 11,000 jobs. It was announced in May and funding hit the ground soon after, and in just three weeks projects are up and running.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says, “this investment in nature will not only support thousands of people with jobs but pay dividends for generations to come by giving nature a helping hand.”

What would it cost?

  • $200 million over four years.
  • $150m of this is allocated to tourism regions hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and are described in the Low Carbon Tourism Package.
  • This cost could be co-funded through seeking commonwealth government contributions. Many of the proposed initiatives are the same or similar to programs that have been full or part-funded by the Commonwealth in other states.