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Funding financial incentives for environmental conservation

Financial incentives are often necessary to spur private individuals to undertake environmental conservation efforts that come at a private cost but have a largely public benefit. Grantmakers who provide such incentives need to be clear about their objectives, their criteria and their funding mechanisms, and evaluate their programs accordingly.

What is the issue?

A significant amount of bushland and remnant native vegetation exists on private property in Australia. Grantmakers have a role to play in protecting biodiversity in the long term by providing financial incentives for landowners to preserve significant bushland, maintain and create habitat corridors for wildlife, and control pests.

What can we do?

Local government grantmakers often provide incentives in the form of rate rebate schemes or ordinary grants, subsidies or payments. Individual grantmakers must decide on the funding mechanism most appropriate to their area. It is important that any scheme is clear about what it will and won't cover, and up to what value.

Grantmakers can contribute to environmental protection and enhancement incentive programs not only by offering dollars, but also by:

  • offering technical support from keen and knowledgeable grants staff
  • facilitating project ownership by participants and building their capacity to deliver on-the-ground works
  • increasing program visibility through local media
  • providing educational opportunities for program participants in the form of training, guidelines and brochures.

Keep in mind that for evaluation purposes, a baseline or initial assessment is usually necessary. This enables the effectiveness of the completed work to be measured.

Melbourne Water is just one example of a grantmaker offering incentives to private land owners and managers. For more information about Melbourne Water's environmental incentives programs, visit its website.

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