The Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee is a community-based umbrella organisation for 47 Landcare groups in the Liverpool Plains area. The Liverpool Plains Catchment Strategic Action Plan (LPCSAP) was developed by the Committee through extensive community consultation and research.
The Committee, in partnership with the NSW Government, managed the Liverpool Plains Pilot Project, trialed three different types of incentive mechanisms to encourage farmers to adopt strategic land management practices outlined in the LPCSAP.
The incentive programs were designed to test three levels of increasingly attractive cost-sharing arrangements aligned to the land use changes that the funding body required. The more on groundwork landholders were required to do, the more favourable the incentives offered. The types of incentives offered were:
- Small Grants of less than $5,000 with a 1:1 cost-sharing ratio to undertake works. This approach was moderately successful in terms of farmer participation, but was the least attractive (to the funding body) in terms of landholder contribution and the land use benefits that would be obtained. It most closely resembled the grants funding provided by the Australian and State Governments over the past 10 years.
- The natural resource 'auctions' scenario was based on the idea that the funding body pays for certain environmental services provided by the landholder. The services that the funding body wished to purchase were advertised allowing landholders to tender for projects. The incentive offered was more attractive to the farmer in terms of cost sharing, but the potential benefits for the funding body are that the investment is strategic and more likely to result on long-term outcomes.
The project team developed ways to rank the tenders using environmental indices. This allowed objective and defensible decisions about which projects would deliver the most environmental outcomes for the least cost.
- Environmental Management Systems (EMS) ISO14001 is an internationally accredited land management system where accredited producers are externally audited to ensure maintenance of agreed land management standards. Potentially, if enough landholders take up EMS accreditation, land management practices would move to a sustainable footing sooner.
The Committee offered attractive financial incentives to landholders to encourage them to adopt EMS accreditation. As this scenario had the biggest impact on business enterprise, it also attracted the most favourable incentives.
Of the three incentive types, natural resource auctions (2) was the most successful. Farmers generally recognised and accepted the need for more strategic investment of funds, which is possible with this approach.
During the trial farmers also indicated a need for increased accountability for public investment. This project, managed by a well-organised community-based group, achieved this. Payments were made subject to the achievement of milestones. This also had successful social outcomes as it took pressure off landholders to implement project works when they were unable to do so because of a drought. When funds are paid in advance, it creates added pressure for farmers to continue project work in an already stressful situation.
The farmers involved in this project were not as accepting of the EMS component, despite the offer of more attractive cost-sharing arrangements. The LPLMC committee has reported on the reasons for the reluctance of farmers to take up EMS to help Catchment Management Authorities and Governments design future incentive programs.
Page last updated: 26 February 2011