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Wildlife refuges

Many people and organisations own land with important plants, animals and their habitats. Making your property a wildlife refuge is one way in which you can protect and conserve wildlife on your property and contribute to the conservation of our unique Australian native plants and animals.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) works with people and communities to protect and conserve nature, Aboriginal heritage and historic heritage, and administers wildlife refuges in New South Wales. The Wildlife Refuges scheme has existed since 1948 and is one of the longest-running schemes in Australia that supports conservation on private and public land.

What is a wildlife refuge?

Creating a wildlife refuge to protect and conserve native wildlife on your property is voluntary.

The purposes of a wildlife refuge can include:

  • recovery of local wildlife species
  • restoration of natural environments
  • study of wildlife and natural environments
  • creating simulated natural environments.

Wildlife refuges may contain remnant native vegetation as well as habitat provided by wildlife corridors, windbreaks, woodlots or farm dams.

Wildlife refuge declarations enable landholders to nominate part or all of a property where the land has native wildlife values and will be managed for this purpose. With whole property management, landholders can continue to include agricultural and other landuses with the conservation of wildlife.

Who can own a wildlife refuge?

Private landholders, public land managers and lessees of Crown land can declare their land a wildlife refuge.

How is a wildlife refuge created?

Landholders identify land to be covered by a wildlife refuge, and with assistance from OEH staff a property report is prepared outlining a scheme of operations. These are tailored for each property, ensuring that other property management objectives can be achieved while improving and maintaining native wildlife protection and conservation.

The NSW Governor then declares the land as a Wildlife Refuge, under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974, by proclamation in the Government Gazette.

A Wildlife Refuge declaration is free and has flexibility. There are options for landholders to change the Wildlife Refuge status when required.

What are the benefits?

Landholders who declare a Wildlife Refuge join the Conservation Partners Program, which aims to encourage, support and assist landholders to manage areas for wildlife on their property.

It also provides opportunities for landholders to share their experiences with other landholders and partner organisations, through:

  • property management planning advice
  • biodiversity surveying and assessment assistance
  • information about wildlife management
  • information about the role of wildlife and native vegetation in sustainable agriculture to control pest species, provide shade and shelter, manage salinity and control wind and water erosion
  • links and contacts with like-minded people
  • notes and news on particular management issues and ecology
  • signs for landholders who have properties registered with the scheme
  • access to education programs and activities
  • assistance programs to support implementation of management plans.

Partner organisations

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

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

Conservation Partners Program

The Wildlife Refuges scheme is part of the Conservation Partners Program and is one of a range of options available to landholders wanting to be involved in conservation. The Conservation Partners Program includes conservation agreements, wildlife refuges, property registration 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.

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Other conservation options for landholders

Page last updated: 10 December 2015