About DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE PROTECTION
The department is responsible for managing the health of the environment to protect Queensland’s unique ecosystems, including its landscapes and waterways, as well as its native plants and animals and biodiversity.
The department’s key activities include:
- Conservation and Sustainability Services, including the implementation of programs to conserve and enhance the health of the state’s natural environment.
- Environmental Services and Regulation, including the facilitation of project approvals and industry compliance.
- Environmental Policy and Planning, including developing and reforming legislation, plans and programs to support front-line environmental service delivery, manage our ecosystems, waste agenda and our ongoing role in climate change adaptation.
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Nature Refuges
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s priorities for the Nature Refuges Program are delivery of the NatureAssist and Koala Nature Refuges Program incentives schemes programs. Only properties deemed to be of outstanding conservation significance will be considered outside of these programs.
What is a nature refuge?
A nature refuge is a voluntary agreement between a landholder and the Queensland Government. A nature refuge agreement acknowledges a commitment to protect land with significant conservation value, while allowing compatible and sustainable land uses to continue. Landholders with a nature refuge continue to own and manage their land for enjoyment and/or to generate an income. Each nature refuge is negotiated directly with the landholder through a nature refuge agreement.
There are currently 491 nature refuges covering 3.94 million hectares in Queensland. In a vast state bearing a diverse array of species, ecosystems and significant sites, nature refuges fill an important niche in promoting a community-based landscape approach to conservation.
NatureAssist delivers on the Queensland Government’s ‘Investing in our Environment for the Future’ election commitment. The program targets specific properties that meet the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s (EHP) priorities for the Nature Refuges Program. Properties are selected for their significant conservation values, connectivity and their predicted resilience to a changing climate. Landholders of properties identified through this process will be contacted directly by the Queensland Government to ask if they are interested in participating. NatureAssist staff will work with landholders to achieve mutually agreed projects that formally protect significant conservation values on their land and enhance the resilience of the property.
Participation is voluntary and conditional on a nature refuge agreement being signed by the landholder and the Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection or their delegate.
Koala Nature Refuges Program
The Koala Nature Refuges Program is a key component of the Queensland Government’s commitment—‘Investing to protect our koalas’. It provides targeted landholders with the opportunity to partner with the Queensland Government to restore and manage koala habitat on their land.
Through a comprehensive analysis of spatial data, the program will target suitable properties by identifying koala values and determining the viability and cost-effectiveness of undertaking a revegetation project on the land. Landholders identified through this process will then be contacted directly by the Queensland Government asking if they wish to be considered for participation in the program. A final assessment is then required to determine the suitability of a habitat restoration project on the land. Delivery of a project is conditional upon entering into a nature refuge agreement over all or part of the property, including the restored habitat. The nature refuge agreement is registered on the land title and is binding on future landholders, protecting the land in perpetuity for future generations
Nature Refuges Partnerships
The Nature Refuges Program is working with a range of partners to secure an environmentally sustainable future for Queensland. Many community groups, non-government organisations, regional natural resource management groups and commercial entities are partnering to help promote and deliver the Nature Refuges Program and sustainable land management practices.