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Joint Media Release
Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
Commonwealth Minister for Revenue, Assistant Treasurer
Senator The Hon. Helen Coonan
20 February 2003
Landholders interested in managing and conserving their land will now be entitled to tax incentives when entering into voluntary conservation agreements with government agencies.
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan, announced the incentive today.
Dr Kemp said the change extends already existing tax incentives and provides financial benefits to landowners who help conserve Australia's environment through entering perpetual conservation covenants.
A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement entered into between a landowner and an authorised body, such as the Trust for Nature, which sets out actions to manage and conserve native vegetation. Previously, tax incentives were not available for conservation covenants entered into with state or local government agencies.
"The incentive was designed to encourage a significantly larger number of people to enter into conservation covenants," Dr Kemp said.
"Conservation covenants are becoming increasingly popular with over 2,000 covenants covering nearly 1 million hectares of land already entered into or currently in the process of negotiation." Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer Senator Helen Coonan said the change will apply to covenants entered into on or after 1 July 2002.
"We've already removed many of the disincentives to donate land to conservation in order to protect our important environmental sites," Senator Coonan said.
"Today's announcement extends tax incentives to people entering conservation covenants with government agencies, such as state departments of parks and wildlife, where they had previously only applied if entered into with deductible gift recipients.
"It allows people to claim an income tax deduction for any decrease in land value as a result of entering into a qualifying conservation covenant provided the landowner receives no payment for entering into it.
"Capital gains tax provisions continue to apply as if it was a sale or gift of land.
"Land holders play a vitally important role on behalf of all Australians in the conservation of the nation's unique native vegetation and their individual activities deserve to be rewarded."
Qualifying conservation covenants must be approved by, or through a program approved by, the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage.
A conservation covenant is registered on a property's land title, formalising the commitment by landholders to put in place conservation activities such as fencing off rare plants, seed collecting and tree planting.
For further information on the Government's conservation initiatives, visit www.ea.gov.au.
Dr Peter Poggioli (Dr Kemp) 02 6277 7640 or 0412 970 063
Amanda Kennedy (Senator Coonan) 02 6277 7360 or 0438 690 305