The Trust funds multi-year projects, based on the Trust's agreed priorities. Funding is guided by a biennial major projects prospectus.

The 2018–20 prospectus

Seven projects worth more than $36 million were addressed in the 2018–20 prospectus. These projects included invasive species impacting biodiversity, such as feral deer, cats and hawkweed, and addressed knowledge gaps for issues including tree dieback, coastal rivers and wetland health, and seed diversity for ecological restoration.

Prospectus 2021

In August 2020, Trust administration asked stakeholders what they consider are the most significant environmental issues affecting New South Wales via an online survey. We received an excellent response with 1,275 stakeholders participating from a range of sectors and with a depth of experience from across the state. The results were analysed and 2 key issues were overwhelmingly nominated with more than double the nominations compared to the next most important issues. These were 'decline in native species' and 'climate degradation'.

The Trust considered the survey findings and noted that the top two issues strongly related to 2 of the Trust's immediate priorities from its Strategic Plan 2020–24 – climate change and threatened species. These 2 issues were scoped further, as a matter of priority, and became part of a new government priority package to support major initiatives in this space over the next 5 to 10 years. While the Trust has previously funded works to protect and conserve threatened species, this is the first time that the Trust has made a significant investment in projects focused directly on addressing climate change – both mitigation and adaptation.

Keeping cats safe at home – 2020

A $2,547,393 4-year grant has been awarded to RSPCA NSW to reduce the impact of domestic cats on wildlife by encouraging cat owners to keep their cats safe at home. The project will work with councils, other local stakeholders and an expert behaviour change consultant to design and implement place-based behaviour change strategies. Project impact will be monitored through an ecology research project with the University of New England. Ten councils from across New South Wales were selected to partner on the project through a competitive expression of interest process. Councils include urban, regional and remote, and coastal and inland areas, which have a variety of cat management challenges. Behaviour change strategies will be implemented from early 2022.

Wildlife heroes – 2019

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 tenure feral deer management – 2019

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.

National Parks and Wildlife Service 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 – 2019

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.

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 – 2019

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 – 2019

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 – 2019

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 – 2019

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.

Hawkweed eradication, staff and volunteers, Kosciuzso National Park