Conservation agreements

Managing your property under a conservation agreement is one way in which you can contribute to the conservation of our unique Australian natural and cultural heritage.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) works with people and communities to protect and conserve nature, Aboriginal heritage and historic heritage in New South Wales. This includes working with landholders who have conservation agreements.

What is a conservation agreement?

A conservation agreement is a joint agreement between landholders and the Minister for the Environment. The agreement provides permanent protection for the special features of your land and is voluntary.

The area under the agreement is registered on the title of the land, ensuring that, if the land is sold, the agreement and management requirements remain in place.

What areas can a conservation agreement protect?

A conservation agreement may be entered into:

  • for areas containing scenery, natural environments or natural phenomena worthy of preservation
  • for areas of special scientific interest
  • for areas that are the sites of buildings, objects, monuments or events of national significance
  • in relation to areas in which Aboriginal objects, or Aboriginal places, of special significance are situated
  • for the study, preservation, protection, care or propagation of fauna or native palnts or other flora
  • for the study, preservation, protection or care of karst environments
  • for the conservation of critical habitat, or the conservation of threatened species, populations or ecological community, or habitat.

Who can enter into a conservation agreement?

A conservation agreement is most suited to people who:

  • have special features including native vegetation, wildlife habitat, Aboriginal sites and historic places on their property
  • want their investment in the conservation of the area to be protected after they leave the property.

Owners of freehold land, lessees of Crown land and local councils are eligible to enter into these agreements.

In particular, a program is under way to convert perpetual Crown leases to freehold title. A select number of landholders managing very high conservation lands are being offered a conservation agreement. This is instead of the standard covenant normally applied to properties which are converted to freehold. For more details, see Conservation agreements: A voluntary option for landholders with land of very high conservation value (PDF 156KB)

Public comment is invited when a conservation agreement is entered into by a statutory authority or another Minister. See conservation agreements on public consultation.

How is a conservation agreement created?

If both the landholder and OEH (on behalf of the Minister for the Environment) wish to proceed with the agreement, a draft agreement is jointly produced. Several drafts may be developed before the final documents are produced.

What are the benefits?

A conservation agreement provides the opportunity for land to be permanently conserved - not just under current ownership, but for all future owners. When entering into a conservation agreement, the landholder continues to undertake responsibility for the management of the land, including control of weeds and feral animals.

OEH may provide assistance to the landholder in the form of:

  • property management planning advice
  • biodiversity surveying and assessment assistance
  • information and practical advice about conservation management strategies
  • links and contacts with like-minded people
  • notes and news on particular management issues and ecology
  • signs
  • access to education programs and activities
  • assistance programs to support implementation of management plans.

Landholders who enter into a conservation agreement may be eligible for rate relief and tax deductions, although this is not controlled by OEH.

Partner organisations

The OEH administers conservation agreements in New South Wales under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974.

Delivery of program services to landholders is undertaken by OEH. From time to time OEH works in partnership with other government agencies, non-government organisations, community groups and local councils.

Conservation Partners Program

Conservation agreements are part of the OEH Conservation Partners Program, and are one of a range of options available to landholders wanting to be involved in conservation. The Conservation Partners Program includes conservation agreements, wildlife refuges, Land for Wildlife and other options that support conservation on private and public land.

The Conservation Partners Program aims to provide practical guidance, information and involvement in a range of activities to all 'conservation partners' across the network. Contact us for more information.

More information

Apply for a conservation agreement


Other conservation options for landholders


Page last updated: 30 November 2015