Environmental Trust grant to support 'Tree changers' land management skills

Environmental Trust Grants Director, Peter Dixon, today announced $2 million from the State’s Environmental Trust would go towards improving the land management knowledge and skills of ‘tree changers’ who’ve bought rural small holdings and those new to farming.

Galah Flat landscape in the Hunter region of NSW.

“We’ve all witnessed the ‘tree change’ phenomena over the past decade or so.  The number of people who have bought themselves acreage on the outskirts of town, as a lifestyle rather than commercial decision, has grown steadily,” Mr Dixon said.

“This has had many positive benefits for rural communities with ‘tree changers’ making a positive contribution to rural communities and local economies  but it is evident that those new to land ownership or farming may not have the best understanding or experience in managing rural lands,” he said.

“As a result, there is potential for new landholders to inadvertently cause negative environmental impacts on their own properties and those of their neighbours who may actually be running larger agricultural properties.

“The proper management of pest animals, managing the spread of weeds and erosion are areas new landholders may need support with. There is evidence of degradation and declining water quality through poor land management in areas where owners of rural small holdings have increased,” Mr Dixon said.

This $2million project “Engaging Small Landholders for Ongoing Environmental Outcomes” was developed by Greater Sydney Local Land Services in partnership with Landcare. The program will be rolled out across the Greater Sydney area and also the Hunter, South East and North Coast where the number of small acreages have increased significantly.

Local Land Services CEO David Witherdin welcomed this investment by the NSW Environmental Trust.

“I congratulate Greater Sydney Local Land Services for taking the lead on this very important initiative. This funding will allow our Local Land Services experts in the field to extend their extensive knowledge and support to new landholders where it is needed most,” he said.

“This three-year project will focus on two to twenty hectare lots which include lifestyle farms around the fringes of major population centres, rural residential, tree changers and hobby farmers who collectively manage about 85,500 properties across NSW.

“As such their impact as land managers should not be underestimated and this needs to be supported to ensure we get the best possible environmental outcomes.

“The project aims to foster improvements in knowledge, skill and understanding around how best to manage small holdings and achieve positive, longer term, environmental outcomes that benefits them, their neighbours and their local environment ” Mr Witherdin said.