Voluntary conservation agreements

The voluntary conservation agreement program supports private landholders by protecting the bushland on their properties.

Voluntary conservation agreements

The Sunshine Coast region is located in one of the most biologically rich areas of Australia with large tracts of remnant bushland under the management of private landholders. Council seeks to work with landholders to protect native plants and animals beyond the boundaries of conservation reserves.

Voluntary conservation agreements (VCA) are a way of conserving our natural heritage. Through the VCA program council supports landholders to permanently protect significant areas of privately owned bushland.

The VCA program fosters partnerships through an agreement between a landholder and council to conserve the natural values of the land. As a property owner, a VCA assists you to conserve your land's natural values without affecting your property ownership rights.

Your land remains under your ownership and control:

  • your land remains under your ownership and control
  • areas can remain exempt from the agreement and can be used for other purposes e.g. grazing, orchards, open space
  • a VCA does not grant any public right of access to your land
  • it is entirely voluntary
  • it takes into account the particular needs and circumstances of each landholder
  • it provides a range of incentives.

Conserving wildlife habitat on private land helps:

  • contribute to the survival of plants and animals which are dependent on particular habitats
  • provide links between isolated conservation reserves allowing for wildlife movement
  • provide greater security for endangered species and ecosystems.

Conservation covenants

A conservation covenant is the legal mechanism used to permanently protect the portion of the property covered by the VCA. It is registered under the Queensland Land Title Act 1994. Conservation covenants place conditions on the title that run with the land. These conditions protect vegetation and wildlife habitat. Covenants are binding on title and on any future owners.

Benefits of a VCA

Financial assistance: Council offers annual financial incentives to VCA landholders. The total value of the annual incentive will be determined by the size of the conservation area. Funds are made available primarily for on-ground conservation work. However, a portion of this may be available as a rate rebate.

It is free: the costs of surveying the covenant and costs associated with developing the agreement are all met by council.

Access to grants and funding: Properties that have conservation covenants are generally more likely to attract government funding and grants.

Environmental Management Plan: The landholder and council conservation officer work together to develop a specific management plan for the VCA area. Ongoing access to management advice is also provided.

Flexibility: the management plan can be amended at any time by agreement.

Security: for landholders who have spent considerable time and money restoring their bushland, a VCA provides security that their conservation area is protected in perpetuity.

The landholder has a lot of say:

  • the landholder decides whether to enter into an agreement at all
  • the landholder decides what land and how much will be included in the covenant
  • the landholder's input into the management plan is essential
  • the landholder retains full ownership and the right to sell the property
  • by applying, the landholder is placed under no obligation and is free to withdraw the application at any time prior to entering into an agreement.

If you would like to find out more about the program or if your property is eligible, please contact a conservation partnerships officer via council's customer service centre.

Free on-site advice on managing areas of natural vegetation for conservation purposes on your property is also available through the land for wildlife program.

View this information in the voluntary conservation agreement brochure (PDF, 3027KB).

Environment and liveability strategy

Voluntary conservation agreements are just one way council and our community are working together to deliver a healthy environment and liveable Sunshine Coast. To see what else we are doing, view the environment and liveability strategy.