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Wildlife an option for stricken properties

Monday, 26 February 2007

Farmers who can't make money from sheep should turn to wildlife, according to conservation worker Lauren Van Dyke.

She says a new market is emerging in which farmers are being paid good money for conserving land for wildlife.

Ms Van Dyke manages a Bredbo, NSW, farm that has been bought by the Bush Heritage Fund as part of a State and Federal government scheme to create a 2800km-long east coast wildlife corridor, stretching from Queensland's Atherton Tableland to the Victorian Alps.

Millions of dollars are on the table for private landholders willing to change the way they run their properties.

"There's a market in wildlife, it's become commercial," Ms Van Dyke said.

"We're not farming to feed livestock, we're farming but our product is wildlife.

"You can't eat it but you can appreciate it."

The Bush Heritage Fund paid $1.5million for Scottsdale, a 1300ha farm bordering on the Murrumbidgee near Bredbo.

The farm was the first purchase made towards the grand east coast wildlife corridor, which is the brainchild of the NSW Government and conservation groups.

The Federal Department of the Environment is working with the states on the corridor and will spend $6million in 2005-06.

Most of the money will go to private landowners who place a conservation covenant over part or all of their land.

Money also is available to farmers for revegetation projects.

SOURCE: The Canberra Times, a Rural Press publication.

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