Placing one-third of her family property under a covenant with The Nature Conservation Trust of New South Wales (NCT) allows Clare Cannon to further commit to her passion for sustainable agricultural production within an aesthetic environment, without reducing the business viability.
NCT approached Mrs Cannon who was happy to place her property, Woomargama Station, Holbrook, under a covenant equating to 600 hectares of conservation area and thereby protecting threatened ecosystems and flora and fauna which inhabit the land.
Mrs Cannon’ has always had a vision for Woomargama Station where farming and conservation can coexist for mutual benefit.
European buyers are very interested in animal welfare, and they’re particularly interested in sustainability
“I feel very strongly about providing leadership in the space and showing that you can run a profitable business while also being focused on sustainability, planting trees and preserving wildlife,” she said.
It’s a good move for the environment, but it is also a smart business decision, with Mrs Cannon pointing out there is increasing customer demand for sustainable practices in farming.
“Woomargama Station is a serious farm business running Poll Merino sheep and Poll Hereford cattle, exporting wool internationally,” she said.
“European buyers are very interested in animal welfare, and they’re particularly interested in sustainability.
“Consumers are demanding the provenance of food, and it’s still a big issue; the provenance of clothing is the next one.”
Building upon the legacy of her parents who had been committed to sustainable agricultural practices for many years, Mrs Cannon’s approach to harmonious agricultural production is paving the path for other landowners.
“My parents had their own vision for preserving the land for future generations,” she said.
“My mother instigated the planting around 100,000 trees throughout the 25 years she ran the property, while my father started soil conservation work in the 1960s, which was very innovative for the time.”
Conservation integral to farm productivity
Clare Cannon’s Woomargama Nature Conservation Trust of NSW (NCT) covenant protects box gum woodland, which is estimated to have been cleared so extensively that only around 3.5 percent of the original extent still exists, according to NCT CEO Gary Wells.
“Evidence is showing that when conservation is seen as an integral part of a farm business rather than as something separate, it is recognising that this natural capital base is the very foundation of the agricultural business,” Mr Wells said.
Mr Wells noted the health of the land is intricately linked to the health of the ecosystems.
“Landholders who choose to look to integrate their farm practices with the ecological aspects that are there, will ultimately reap the benefits of a much more robust landscape,” he said.
“We are confident that other landholders will follow Mrs Cannon’s lead and look to integrate protected areas with those used for farming.
“It’s about recognising that there is value on the land that is provided by these protected areas, which adds real value to the rest of the farm - improved soil fertility, dealing with salinity issues, shelter for stock and recycling of nutrients are just some of the ways that nature can assist in the farming process.”
Mr Wells noted the real opportunity that lies ahead for the NCT is getting more landholders to see the covenant as something that can greatly benefit their farming businesses.
“The NCT’s covenant process involves a plan of management, which is provided to the landholder,” he said.
“The plan provides a detailed assessment of the conservation values of the land, including lists of present flora and fauna species as well as a prevalent weed species and feral animals. It is an invaluable resource.”