Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy - Case studies

Five images - Yirralka Ranger; Castle Hill in Townsville; Wet Tropics of Queensland; Bore site near Jimbour; Wet Tropics of Queensland

Case studies

 Nicole Middleton)

A burrowing bettong, one of the four threatened species successfully reintroduced into the reserve (Photo: S. Lyon)

Case study: Arid Recovery—protecting Australia’s threatened animals and ecosystems

Arid Recovery is a unique partnership between industry, government, education and the community.

Located near BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in northern South Australia, Arid Recovery is an ecosystem restoration initiative based around one of Australia’s largest fenced reserves, from which all feral cats, foxes and rabbits have been removed. The reserve straddles the BHP Billiton special mine lease and sections of five pastoral properties, and covers a total area of 123 square kilometres. Four locally-extinct mammal species have been successfully reintroduced and native animals and plants are now thriving within the feral-proof fenced reserve. It has become both a centre for ecological research and the site of a nationally significant conservation program.

Arid Recovery was initiated in 1997 by a partnership comprising BHP Billiton, the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage, The University of Adelaide and a community group, Friends of Arid Recovery. The partnership’s mission is to facilitate restoration of arid zone ecosystems through on-ground works, applied research, and industry, community and government partnerships.

Together with other Arid Recovery partners and collaborators, BHP Billiton is committed to ensuring the maintenance of the existing reserve and the sustainability of research and public education programs. A key future objective is to improve broad-scale benefits to the environment and the perception of resource industries by re-establishing threatened species outside the reserve, on both the Olympic Dam mine lease and surrounding pastoral properties.

 Nicole Middleton)

Agriculture, Kununurra, WA
(Photo: Nicole Middleton)

Case study: Australia’s Farming Future

Australia's Farming Future (AFF) is an Australian Government program. It aims to equip primary producers and their industries with the research, tools and information to minimise their emissions, adapt and adjust to the impacts of climate change and maintain productivity.

Australian agriculture is particularly vulnerable to climate change with increased temperatures and reduced rainfall projected to affect the yield and quality of commodities produced in Australia's agricultural systems. The variable nature of Australia's climate is expected to increase, with projections indicating more frequent and severe extreme events such as drought and bushfire.

Support for primary producers is provided through the following elements of AFF: research and development through the Climate Change Research Program; training through the FarmReady program; building community networks and capacity to manage climate change; adjustment advice; and assistance for those who choose to leave farming.

AFF is about providing primary producers and their industries with the information they need to make informed decisions. It is also about creating opportunities to reduce emissions, manage climate change and increase productivity.

 Nicole Middleton)

Yellow-footed rock-wallaby
(Photo: Supplied by Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland)

Case study: Back on Track

The Back on Track species prioritisation framework increases the capacity of the Queensland Government, natural resource management (NRM) bodies and communities to prioritise decisions about where to focus action and investment to protect and recover Queensland’s threatened biodiversity. The framework enables limited conservation resources for threatened species to be strategically targeted to achieve multi-species and landscape-level outcomes.

This framework prioritises species using multiple criteria to identify the species that are in trouble and which have the greatest chance of recovery. The framework has been used to assess 4,265 plant and animal species from marine, aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The process has identified threats and developed management actions for 383 priority species and these priority actions have been translated into tangible conservation outcomes via landscape-level conservation projects across multiple NRM regions in Queensland.

Preference is given to landscape-level actions that will benefit multiple species. Actions are detailed, prioritised and focussed to ensure the best allocation of resources over the following five years. The resulting lists of priority species, threats and actions have been compiled into ‘Actions for Biodiversity’ for each NRM region to guide investment in on-ground action, plans and strategies, community capacity building, and research and monitoring. This data will be made available to all NRM practitioners via the online Recovery Actions Database. The Back on Track species prioritisation framework is funded by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, and the Australian Government.

Northern Corroboree Frog

Northern Corroboree Frog
(Photo: M. Evans /
ACT Government)

Case study: Corroboree Frog breeding program (Australian Capital Territory Government)

The captive breeding program for the Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi) at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve aims to maintain a captive ‘assurance’ colony as a precaution against extinction in the wild. The program is undertaken by ACT Parks, Conservation and Lands and is part of the National Recovery Program for Corroboree Frogs (Pseudophryne species) and the ACT Action Plan for the northern species.

The Northern Corroborree Frog is listed as threatened in the ACT, NSW and nationally. In the ACT, there are estimated to be less than 100 Northern Corroboree Frogs left in the wild.

The ACT has established successful husbandry and captive breeding methods. Since 2007 the captive population has numbered between 700 and 1,500 individuals. Over 1,000 eggs have now been laid in captivity. A captive breeding and release strategy has been prepared and release of captive bred individuals into the wild is planned to occur within the next two years.

Key partners in this program include ACT universities (University of Canberra and Australian National University), Australian zoos (Melbourne and Taronga), NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, the Corroboree Frog Recovery Team and the Amphibian Research Centre in Melbourne.

Ribbon Bums, East Gippsland

Ribbon Gums, East Gippsland
(Photo: John Baker)

Case study: ecoMarkets (Victorian Government)

ecoMarkets is a term used by the Victorian Government to describe a range of market-based systems aimed at addressing environmental decline. The main function of ecoMarkets is to provide incentives for private landholders, who own 65% of Victoria’s land, to manage their land in ways that conserve and enhance the environment.

BushTender, EcoTender and BushBroker are examples of ecoMarkets that have had significant positive impacts on environmental quality on private land. BushTender and EcoTender adopt auction-based approaches, while BushBroker is a system of tradeable credits. Landholders are able to earn income from ecoMarkets if they are able to provide environmental improvements in a cost-effective way. For more information visit

Case study: Environmental Stewardship (Australian Government)

Environmental Stewardship is an element of the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative. It uses market approaches to maintain and improve the condition and extent of high value environmental assets listed as matters of national environment significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The first asset targeted is the critically endangered White Box, Yellow Box and Blakely's Red Gum and derived grasslands ecological community (Box Gum Grassy Woodland). This community extends from Queensland to Victoria predominantly within the wheat-sheep belt. Box Gum Grassy Woodland is an important ecological community which provides habitat for at least 19 threatened species, including the Superb Parrot, Swift Parrot and the Tiger Quoll, as well as many other native plants and animals.

Yellow Box, NSW

Yellow Box, NSW

Environmental Stewardship differs from other Caring for our Country elements by providing long-term payments (up to 15 years) to land managers to protect high value environmental assets on private land. The Australian Government recognises that using market-based incentives such as those under Environmental Stewardship can be an effective way of engaging land managers to protect and maintain environmental assets on private land. There is strong support amongst key stakeholder groups in the Australian community for stewardship payments as a means of protecting biodiversity.

Environmental Stewardship has helped establish a way of delivering environmental outcomes in Australia through market-based mechanisms working with land managers, scientists and the private sector. The program has also helped build the capacity of the private sector to deliver environmental outcomes.

 Nicole Middleton)

Controlled burn in west Arnhem Land, July 2009 (Photo: David Hancock, courtesy of NAILSMA)

Case study: Indigenous fire management in Northern Australia

The Indigenous Fire Management in Northern Australia Project is facilitated by the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) and run by Indigenous land management groups. It focuses on implementing traditional, mosaic-style fire management practices in northern Australia. This Australian Government Caring for our Country investment will help prevent intense wildfires that regularly burn 40% of some savanna regions in a single fire season and cause significant biodiversity loss. Better fire management practices are also likely to deliver greenhouse gas emissions abatement and opportunities to enter carbon markets, creating enterprise opportunities for Indigenous people and supporting ongoing land management activities.

As part of this project, further research is under way to determine actual emissions outcomes from altered fire management practices. This includes the establishment of up to four large-scale fire management project areas in the savanna regions of northern Australia. A number of Indigenous ranger groups, funded through the Working on Country element of Caring for our Country, provide support to the project by undertaking fire management and monitoring activities in the four project areas. NAILSMA seeks specialist advice and works with the participating groups to facilitate market participation, including the development of emissions accounting capabilities, capacity building, and legal and governance frameworks for Indigenous entry into potential carbon markets.

There are substantial social, economic and cultural benefits associated with this Indigenous project through job creation, capacity building and the transfer of traditional ecological knowledge through fire and land management activities.

 Nicole Middleton)

Broken Hill City Council Living Desert Ranger inspecting a patch of Sturt’s Desert Pea within a council managed reserve (Photo: courtesy Broken Hill City Council)

Case study: Integrating natural resource management into local government operations

The Local Government and Shires Associations of New South Wales (LGSA) have initiated a range of programs designed to increase the capacity of local government in New South Wales (NSW) and to better integrate NRM into the core functions of councils. The LGSA commissioned the production of a set of guidelines which aims to build capacities in a number of areas through the integration of NRM into council corporate planning and reporting, and land use planning.

The guidelines are designed for local government professionals, managers and councillors but they will also be useful for NRM, corporate and land-use planning consultants, catchment management authorities (CMAs) and other NSW and Australian Government agencies involved in supporting and influencing NRM in local government.

The guidelines were developed with the assistance of Sydney Metro CMA, Southern Rivers CMA, state government agencies and numerous councils around NSW. Financial assistance was provided by the Australian Government.

 Nicole Middleton)

Stakeholders on deck of trawler watching fisherman release the codend, and empty the catch into fish tubs (Photo: courtesy OceanWatch Australia)

Case study: SeaNet Program

OceanWatch Australia established SeaNet in 1999. It is a unique Australian network of fisheries conservation experts providing an environmental extension service to the Australian fishing industry. SeaNet provides information and advice on reducing environmental impacts and works directly with industry, managers and researchers to develop and implement improved fishing gear, technology and methods. It aims to minimise the catch of non-target species (by-catch) and encourage environmental best practice for industry.

Successes include the reduction of accidental capture of seals and sea-lions, seasnakes, seabirds, dugongs, marine turtles, whales, dolphins and sharks, whilst assisting industry to remain internationally competitive. This project currently operates in all states and territories with commercial fisheries.

SeaNet is managed by OceanWatch Australia, a national environmental, not-for-profit company that works to advance sustainability in the Australian seafood industry. OceanWatch’s key activities involve protecting and enhancing fish habitats; improving water quality in estuaries and coastal environments; working with industry and local communities to minimise environmental impacts; and introducing industry and communities to sustainable technologies and behaviours.

Kangaroo Paw

Kangaroo Paw (Photo:
Nicola Bryden)

Case study: South West Australia Ecoregion Conservation Plan

The South West Australia Ecoregion (WA) is recognised as one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots. A consortium of key WA organisations with funding from the Australian Government and led by WWF Australia and the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) are developing a conservation plan for the Ecoregion. The project brings together government, non-government, industry, tertiary, regional natural resource management (NRM) and community organisations holding key biodiversity data (including DEC, WA Museum and Birds Australia).

The conservation plan utilises a data-rich, explicit planning process that is informed by robust expert advice. Implementation of on-ground work will be carried out in high priority areas identified through the planning process to improve the condition, connectivity and resilience of habitats and landscapes, as well as increase land manager knowledge and skills.

Spotted-tailed quoll

Spotted-tailed Quoll
(Photo: Dave Watts)

Case study: Tasmanian Midlands Biodiversity Hotspot Project (Australian and Tasmanian Governments)

The Tasmanian Midlands region is a nationally important ‘hot spot’ for its unique biodiversity, with over 180 rare and threatened plant and animal species. The main aim of the project was to work with landholders across the Midlands to help them protect the long-term future of native ecosystems with particular attention to threatened species and other special values on their own land. Under the project, 16 important biodiversity conservation agreements were secured covering 1,470 hectares of forest, woodland, grassland and wetland.

The project was run by the Southern Midlands Council, supported by Northern Midlands Council, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water and the Tasmanian National Resource Management (NRM) Regions.

Banner photo credits: Yirralka Ranger, Dukpirri Marawili removing a ghost net at Yilpara Beach, Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area, Arnhem Land, NT (Photo: Jenifer Rahmoy 2006); View from Castle Hill in Townsville with burn off north of city; Orange-thighed frogs in the Wet Tropics of Queensland (Photo: Mike Trenerry); Bore site near Jimbour, Qld