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ARTICLES >> Environment Articles

Churinga's Rangeland Conservation Program

Posted by Bestprac on Sep 14 2009

By Trudie Atkinson, NSW DPI, Trangie and Sally Ware,NSW DPI, Hay


The “Enterprise Based Conservation” program was developed under the WEST 2000 Plus program and is now administered by the Western Catchment Management Authority (WCMA). It was initially started as a pilot program to see if a payment based conservation scheme could work on private properties. The pilot initially included nine properties and now a modified version of the program has been extended to include another six properties.


Churinga is a 50,000 ha property located 130 km east of Broken Hill and has been owned by the Hannigan family since the early 1950s. Current owner Garry Hannigan, was one of the nine landholders successful in the initial tender with the WEST 2000 Plus pilot in 2003. Garry will continue this agreement with the Western CMA until 2012.

On Churinga, 4000 ha or eight percent of the property is managed for conservation. The area includes some rocky outcrop and is extremely picturesque country. This area is managed by Garry to reduce soil erosion, to provide a safe haven for flora and fauna, in particular those impacted by grazing, and to provide habitat for threatened species. Practically, this means not stocking the area and maintaining the fencing to exclude domestic stock from the paddock, managing goat numbers by either trapping goats using self-mustering enclosures or mustering, controlling excessive kangaroo grazing pressure and baiting foxes and cats twice annually. Biodiversity studies and photo points, for example, are used to monitor the conservation area. The conservation agreement is a legally binding contract so Garry’s management needs to comply completely with the conditions, for example, ensuring grazing is excluded from the area.

Churinga’s Rangeland Conservation ProgramInitially, the main consideration and motivation for becoming involved in the program was the alternative income source as Garry is paid an annual payment for managing the conservation area. This annual incentive payment provided Garry with a comparable income to the productive returns that could be achieved on the land over time. However, over time, the concept and other benefits to the business (such as public approval for environmental stewardship) have become much more important to Garry than the annual payment. Overall, the idea of keeping a proportion of the property exclusively for conservation fits within Garry’s overall property management program which includes running Churinga as a completely organic property.

Garry believes payment for managing private land for conservation does work and could be an alternative to using public money for drought aid or buying large tracts of land under the State government land acquisition scheme.

Last changed: Feb 15 2012

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