Our Rural Landholder Initiative assists landholders through education and incentives

The Rural Landholder Initiative is a key part of Council’s Biodiversity Management Strategy. It is a rural landholder capacity building project that involves education opportunities and incentives, largely in the form of small grants. The program was designed with Southern Cross University and works with landholders restore and enhance biodiversity assets on private land.

This program started in 2015 with grant funding from the NSW Environment Trust ($100,000), which was matched by Lismore City Council with another $100,000. The program is now ongoing due to a special rate approved by the NSW Government in February 2016.

The Rural Landholder Initiative was developed based on findings in Southern Cross University’s Incentives Report. This report is based on a 12-month study into the best ways to engage landholders through incentives. This included a landholder survey to find out what farmers wanted and how best Council could help them conserve natural areas on their land.

Biodiversity eNewsletter

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This email newsletter will notify you of upcoming grant opportunities and field days, events, education and training opportunities, and information on weeds and treatments.


Grant Program

Rural Landholder Initiative grants are currently closed. Advertisement will be placed in our fortnightly publication Local Matters and in our Biodiversity eNewsletter (subscribe below) when the next grant round opens.

Information for rural landholders

Council’s online Interactive Mapping Service may assist you to find out environmental information about your property.

Council has produced a range of booklets on the major environmental issues for five land use types in our region: beef graziers, dairy farmers, orchardists, floodplain croppers and rural ‘lifestyle’ landholders.

The booklets offer ideas for improving land management practices for biodiversity and includes a Farm Health Assessment Tool so that landholders can self-assess if their practices.

We recommend you consult the booklets to gain ideas about how to improve your land management practices. These can also help if and when you wish to apply for grant funding. You can download the booklets from our Rural Landholder Initiative page, pick them up at Council’s Corporate Centre, 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, or ask for them to be mailed to you.

Other professional advice is available from your local Landcare network, Local Land Services agents, Rous County Council (weeds and water) and other government and non-government agencies.

For further information or advice, contact our Extension Officer Kate Steel on 1300 87 83 87.

Annual grants program

The Rural Landholder Initiative is part of Council’s Biodiversity Management Strategy (BMS) and is designed to conserve biodiversity hotspots on private land. The program assists and builds the capacity of rural landholders through education and incentives, to enhance and improve biodiversity in our Local Government Area (LGA).

Council will call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from rural landholders across the LGA who are seeking assistance with materials and labour for on-ground works to protect and enhance areas such koala habitat, riverbanks and remnant vegetation.

Assistance provided is up to $5000 for primary works and initial maintenance in the first year, with complex restoration projects eligible for second year funds up to $2500. Sites along floodplain riverbanks can apply for up to $10,000 if works include fencing and off-stream watering (see CZMP definitions).

Rural Landholder Initiative grants are currently closed. Advertisement will be placed in our fortnightly publication Local Matters and in our Biodiversity eNewsletter (subscribe below) when the next grant round opens.

What are the current priorities?

High conservation value areas across the LGA

The concept of high conservation value (HCV) can be applied to species, populations, habitats or communities, or areas of land that support these HCV elements.

The BMS identifies criteria that must be present to consider an area as high conservation value. These include:

  • Land containing threatened species or populations
  • Key habitat for threatened fauna and flora, e.g. Regent Honeyeater habitat
  • Endangered Ecological Communities, e.g. Swamp Sclerophyll Forest
  • Key habitats that support priority vertebrate assemblages, e.g. Forest Red Gum grassy open forest
  • Land within areas identified as high priority wildlife corridor
  • Koala habitat
  • Areas of land that support any type of rainforest
  • Old growth forest
  • Native riparian vegetation
  • Wetland and estuarine vegetation

Due to the recent flood events in our LGA, restoration works that aim to address flood damage to creek and riverbanks, hillslopes and bushland are eligible for funding. These projects must also address the long-term biodiversity benefits that can be achieved alongside flood damage repair and mitigation. Waterway stabilisation techniques that use best practice for biodiversity improvement will be considered appropriate for funding.

Full details of HCV and priority species are included in the BMS document found on Council’s website and can be discussed with the Environmental Officers at Council. You can also find HCV areas on Council’s online mapping tool.

Map - High Conservation Value Habitat North of Lismore

Map - High Conservation Value Habitat South of Lismore

Map - Key Habitat Corridors North of Lismore

Map - Key Habitat Corridors South of Lismore

Map - Koala Habitat North of Lismore

Map - Koala Habitat South of Lismore

Riparian restoration on the floodplain (Coastal Zone Management Area)

Priority riparian areas on the floodplain are those contained in the Coastal Zone Management Area. Projects on the floodplain will be chosen that protect and enhance riparian corridors through weed management, revegetation, erosion control and habitat improvement.

Areas along riverbanks of the Wilsons River downstream of Boatharbour, and lower Leycester Creek will be eligible for increased funding in this round of Rural Landholder Initiative grants.

Fencing for stock exclusion and off stream watering along these floodplain riverine and creek corridors will be eligible for increased funding in this round of Rural Landholder Initiative grants (up to $10,000).

Map - CZMP priority areas in the LGA

Project Ideas

Applicants are advised to consult the recently released Rural Landholder Initiative education booklets for ideas on land management practices that relate to improving and conserving biodiversity across our landscapes and waterways. The booklets relate to healthy landscapes and waterways, as well as four key industries operating in our region.

Landholders are encouraged to consult with qualified bush regenerators, Landcare professionals, Council staff, Local Land Services, Rous County Council (weeds and water) and government agents about project planning, action plans and best-practice techniques. The most successful projects are those that are well planned and widely consulted.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible for grant funding through this program, the applicant and the project must meet the eligibility criteria detailed in the Rural Landholder Initiative Guidelines for Funding. In summary:

  • Only landholders who own land within the Lismore LGA are eligible to apply (community and industry groups are not eligible).
  • Lismore City Council staff are not eligible to apply.
  • Projects that are primarily for beautification or improving amenity without significant environmental outcomes are not eligible.
  • Projects are not eligible if they are part of any development consent condition.
  • Applicants must be up to date with rate payments to Lismore City Council for the property associated with the application.
  • All applicants must make an equal cash or in-kind contribution to the project funds and show value for money.
  • Successful applicants must be willing to sign an agreement to maintain the project site beyond the funding period.


Farm Health Assessment Tools and Education Booklets

Lismore City Council, in partnership with Southern Cross University, has developed a Farm Health Assessment Tool. This tool enables landholders to self-assess their own land management practices against those identified as ‘out-dated’, ‘common’ or ‘best’ practice' in a range of land use situations. There are suggested pathways for improvement and landholders can use the tools as a form of ‘self-monitoring’ when managing biodiversity on their properties.

These booklets were developed in consultation with industry groups, landholders and relevant experts in land management.

There are four booklets which focus on different land management issues in major industries in the Lismore LGA.

Book 1: Healthy landscapes and waterways (this applies to ALL landowners)

The following books are in addition to Book 1:

Book 2: Beef grazing and dairying

Book 3: Macadamias and other orchards

Book 4: Floodplain cropping

If you wish to provide feedback about the booklets, please email us at council@lismore.nsw.gov.au

Field Days and Events

Free Rural Landholder Initiative Biodiversity Field Days

These field days focus on practical ways to manage rural properties to address common issues such as:

  • Techniques to effectively manage environmental weeds, including camphor laurel, coral trees, lantana, privet etc.
  • Restoring waterways and managing erosion
  • Looking after soil biology to reduce landholder costs
  • Restoring habitat for threatened species such as koalas

The field days are a great opportunity to meet other landholders and to hear about what they have been doing.

These field days are held on properties where the landholders have demonstrated exceptional land management practices and have great vision to improve their land for biodiversity. Council refers to these landholders as ‘landholder champions’.

Council is holding the following five field days in 2017:

Macadamia Orchards and Biodiversity Field Day
Friday, 19 May, 9am-2pm, Whian Whian

Join local macadamia growers and graziers working to improve soil health, productivity and manage native habitat and pest animals on their properties in the upper catchment. Hands-on advice about soil carbon and soil health as well as discussion on ways to improve koala corridors through farms and orchards, and planning successful bush restoration projects. Landholders seeking help with wild dog management will be interested to see a demonstration of options from ‘Tracs’ professional contractors and Local Land Services staff.

Grazing Technology and River Restoration Field Day
Saturday, 3 June, 9am-2pm, South Lismore

Local graziers, dairy farmers and riverbank landholders on the floodplain throughout Lismore are invited to a practical demonstration of riverbank restoration at a property on Leycester Creek. With many landholders in the Leycester Creek catchment reporting bank slips with the recent flood, this event is a timely opportunity to hear from experts on working in these difficult and dynamic areas. We will discuss approaches for revegetation including weed control techniques, species selection, long-stem plantings and dealing with bank slips. Koala and fox detection dog ‘Jet’ from Reconeco will demonstrate innovative detection techniques. Staff from Local Land Services, Conservation Volunteers and V2 Aerial Photography will also present information on the use of technology for farm efficiency such as drones and virtual fencing. Temporary electric fencing for cattle will also be on display as a response to the flood event.

Practical Property Planning Field Day
Thursday, 3 August, 9am-1.30pm, Jiggi

Farmers, graziers and rural landholders are invited to a fourth generation grazing property to see property planning in action. Topics covered will help you identify natural resource priorities (soil, water, vegetation) on your own property and plan management actions to achieve long and short term goals. Using this property as a case study, experts from a range of organisations will discuss why and how you can start a plan, how to estimate costs of fencing and revegetation, and how to access funding. Whether it is making improvements to grazing management, weed control or improving biodiversity, a property plan is a good land management tool that deserves attention.

Rural Farmland Ecology Field Day
Friday, 15 September, 9am-1.30pm, Tuncester

Join ecologists and bush regenerators on an informative tour of a grazing property on a spur of the Caniaba plateau, a landscape with both wet and dry forest types and unique ecological features. There will be practical demonstrations of woody weed control techniques and remote camera equipment for wildlife and wild dog management, as well as traps for Indian myna control. An earlier start for bird watchers is on offer but RSVPs are essential.

Rural Lifestyle/Landholders working together for Biodiversity Field Day
Saturday, 7 October, 9.30am-1.30pm, Terania Creek

Rural landholders in the upper catchments are faced with a range of issues when looking after small to medium-sized lifestyle blocks. Fast-growing weeds, creek bank erosion, and habitat fragmentation are a few issues impacting across property boundaries. This field day will demonstrate how a group of neighbours are working together to restore degraded rainforest areas and control weeds across their boundaries. Professional bushland regenerators will be available to discuss options for restoration, including no and low-chemical techniques. Koala habitat restoration is also occurring amongst the neighbourhood and the group is keen to share the experiences of the work they are doing.

Below is a series of short videos on some of the field days held in 2016 that highlight a range of topics:

Video: Georgica Field Day – Rural Lifestyle and Biodiversity

Video: Whian Whian Field Day – Mixed Orchards and Biodiversity

Video: Coraki Field Day – Floodplain Cropping and Biodiversity

Video: Boarharbour Field Day – Grazing and Biodiversity in our Water Catchments

Other Useful Links and Our Partners

Southern Cross University: http://scu.edu.au/

Rous County Council: https://www.rous.nsw.gov.au/landing.html

Richmond Landcare Inc: http://www.richmondlandcare.org/

Soil Care: http://www.soilcare.org/

Wetlandcare Australia and Conservation Volunteers Australia: http://www.wetlandcare.com.au/index.php

North Coast Local Land Services: http://northcoast.lls.nsw.gov.au/

Friends of the Koala: http://www.friendsofthekoala.org/fok/