Major projects

The NSW Environmental Trust funds projects that tackle large or complex issues. Major projects are chosen through consultation with key stakeholders.

About the program

Projects funded under the Environmental Trust's major projects funding stream are designed to tackle large-scale and/or complex issues. The Trust identifies and designs these projects through consultation with key stakeholders.

There are 3 categories of major projects. These are:

Ongoing major projects

These projects are ones that the Trust has historically funded on an 'ongoing' basis for an extended period. They generally address priority environmental issues identified by the Trust as being worthy of continuous funding as they remain an unfunded priority issue or relate directly to the Trust's statutory objects. The need for ongoing funding for these projects is reviewed periodically.

Strategic major projects

These projects represent the Trust's 'proactive' projects. Under this category, the Trust funds multi-year projects, based on the Trust's agreed priorities. Funding is guided by a biennial major projects prospectus.

New government priorities

From time to time, the Trust has been asked to fund new priorities of government. These are generally high priority issues that address point-in-time environmental issues or complement new policy or legislative frameworks.

Planning and reporting

Major Projects staff will provide you with the necessary planning and reporting documents.

Acknowledgement requirement

You must prominently acknowledge the Trust’s assistance in all publications and promotional material relating to the project by using the following statement:

This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

You also need to use the New South Wales Government logo. See Funding acknowledgement and logos for details.

Strategic major project grants

Wildlife heroes

The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife was recently awarded $1.47 million to support wildlife rehabilitators and provide them with the tools and knowledge to continue their important work rescuing and rehabilitating native wildlife. It will also give some support to private veterinary practices whose services are critical to the treatment of animals requiring care. The project aims to increase the capacity of the wildlife rehabilitation sector to meet ongoing community demands for assistance with wildlife; meet improved animal care standards and ensure the ongoing sustainability of the sector.

Cross effective cross tenure feral deer management

A $9.21 million, 8-year grant has been awarded to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to develop and trial new cost-effective, humane and coordinated control techniques to complement existing methods of feral deer management in Kosciuszko National Park and adjoining landholder properties.

NPWS will deliver the project as a pilot proof-of-concept in south-eastern Kosciuszko National Park and adjoining landholder properties. A timely opportunity exists to intervene in this period of rapid expansion and control deer numbers before they become a highly significant environmental and agricultural problem.

Kosciuszko National Park and surrounding areas contain some of the highest concentrations of deer in the state at a landscape scale. A reduction of deer will directly benefit many threatened species at the site in the region. The project will significantly alter the operational management of deer and enable land managers to sustain control efforts in the future.

Accelerating hawkweed eradication

A $7,270,500 8-year grant has been awarded to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to facilitate the eradication of orange and mouse-ear hawkweeds from Kosciuszko National Park and Snowy Monaro Regional Council area.

Orange and mouse-ear hawkweeds are highly invasive plants which spread rapidly and result in significant environmental and agricultural impacts. NPWS currently controls and monitors hawkweed incursions across approximately 1200 hectares.

The grant will substantially hasten eradication success by:

  • increasing surveillance operations significantly by eightfold
  • preventing weed spread and improving early detection through public education and behaviour change campaigns
  • developing innovative remote surveillance technologies with the potential to revolutionise how weeds are managed in the future.

The project will set a benchmark for best practice weed eradication in Australia and could transform future weed management and behaviour change campaigns in New South Wales.

Healthy seeds for resilient restoration

This $385,000, one-and-a-half-year grant was awarded to the Australian Plant Conservation Network. Based on strong consultation with a wide variety of industry, regulatory, government and community stakeholders, the project will investigate the causes of problems in the quality, availability and reliability of native seed for restoration projects.

This project will establish a consortium with representatives from the native seed industry. It will investigate and analyse the licensing and regulation framework, knowledge gaps and professional standards. The project will collaboratively design and deliver a roadmap to address the issue, and after completion will recommend options for further investment to the Trust.

Weed biocontrol program expansion

An additional $500,000 4-year grant has been awarded to CSIRO to develop new biocontrol agents for use against specific environmental weeds in New South Wales.

Weeds cost the NSW economy $1.8 billion each year in lost production and control costs and are so widespread that they now make up 21% of the total plants in New South Wales. Biocontrol is one of the widely accepted methods for managing weeds.

Biocontrol is a highly cost-effective option for managing environmental weeds, with an estimated economic return of $23 for every $1 invested.

The project will:

  • identify appropriate biocontrol agents for 5 new weeds that are ranked as high priority environmental weeds in New South Wales
  • piggy-back on previous biocontrol research and use existing partnerships in Australia and overseas to source and quarantine the most likely agents and other non-target species
  • conduct rigorous testing of the agents to determine suitability for release.

Developing strategies for effective feral cat management

A $14,683,125 5-year grant has been awarded to the University of New England to demonstrate effective, integrated management strategies for feral cats in north-east, south-east and western NSW.

In Australia, predation by feral cats is recognised as the single biggest threat to native mammals, but management has been challenging due to limited control options and cost-effective monitoring techniques.

The project will significantly reduce feral cats and aid the recovery of threatened native species at 9 trial sites. It will:

  • develop innovative online tools for monitoring, including automated individual feral cat identification algorithms
  • refine existing cat control techniques and test new control options
  • train practitioners and develop a predictive decision tool for cat control.

Untangling the causes of tree Dieback: Planning for future survival

Dieback refers to widespread, long-term decline in tree health which often involves canopy thinning, loss of leaves and eventual tree death. The causes are complex and unclear, and the problem has the potential to affect vast areas of NSW forest.

This $1.34-million project will identify the underlying causes of tree dieback in New South Wales via a dedicated stream of the Trust's contestable research grants program.

This new contestable grant program will support further research to address important knowledge gaps. It is expected this will directly inform best practice approaches to managing this widespread issue.


Consistent with what we ask of grant recipients, the Trust regularly undertakes independent evaluations of its programs and projects. This helps us assess how well intended outcomes are met and how programs and projects could be improved in the future. These evaluations may also help to inform new funding programs.

Roadside Vegetation Implementation Project

The Trust engaged the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to undertake an evaluation of Stages 1 and 2 of the Roadside Vegetation Implementation Project. The Trust provided approximately $2.35 million in funding in 2 stages between 2011 and 2014. The evaluation assessed the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the project. We have accepted, wholly or partially, all the recommendations.

The NRC also provided advice on investment priorities for a possible third stage of the project. The reports and our response are available on the NRC website.

Contaminated Land Management Evaluation

The NRC evaluated the NSW Environment Protection Authority's (EPA's) Contaminated Land Management (CLM) Program. The Trust has provided $13.1 million in funding to the program since 2001. In May 2017, the NRC found a demonstrable need for funding for CLM, but recommended that the Trust re-evaluate if and how it should continue to invest in CLM. The report and responses from the Trust and EPA are available on the NRC website.

Land Acquisition Program Evaluation

Since 2000, the Trust has provided $91.5 million to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to purchase private land for management under the national parks estate in perpetuity, meeting object 7(d) under the Environmental Trust Act 1998.

Guided by a rolling 5-year Business Plan, the program aims to protect various habitats, flora, fauna and places of cultural importance through the purchase of high conservation value land, ensuring the connectivity of fragmented reserves, meeting state and federal conservation goals.

An independent evaluation was undertaken by Aegis to ascertain whether the program was meeting intended outcomes and deliverables and to identify any risks to the program.

The evaluation undertaken by Aegis found that the project objectives were achieved. It also recommended that the Trust continue to fund the program as the mechanism to fulfil its statutory object and that NPWS continue to manage the program following the Reserve Establishment Guidelines.

The evaluations also recommended the Trust consider increasing funding to reflect the estimated average annual increases in NSW rural land prices and for funding to be more consistent with the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

As recommended, the Trust has continued the program and increased annual funding to $10 million for the next 4 years. Key priority acquisition themes are protecting koala habitat, connectivity conservation and efficient management of parks.

The report is available on the Aegis website (PDF 702KB) and you can download the response from National Parks and Wildlife Service: National Parks and Wildlife Service response to AEGIS Consulting Group evaluation of the land acquisition program.

Sustainability Programs Evaluation

Since 2013, the Trust has provided $12 million over 3 years to the former Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to fund a Sustainability Program. The program aimed to increase the capacity of business, NSW Government, Local Government, consumers and communities to contribute to the 2 core program goals: removing market barriers to resources efficiency and clean energy and; strengthening location based environmental management and resilience to climate change.

In December 2015, the Trust approved the transfer of funding for the program to the Department as the program was more aligned to its core business.

A mid-term independent evaluation was conducted in September 2016. The evaluation undertaken by Aegis found that ambiguity in the objectives posed risks to the project. It was recommended the program refine objectives, target mid- and long-term outcomes, undertake regular performance reviews, and increase consistency with recommendations from the Productivity Commission on government service delivery.

You can download the evaluation report: Mid-Term Evaluation of the Sustainability Program.