Nature Refuges Program
The Nature Refuges Program (the Program) is the Queensland Government’s primary private protected area program. The program works with landholders who have an interest in protecting and managing the significant conservation values of their land in perpetuity. A nature refuge is established through a voluntary, binding conservation agreement between the landholder and the Department of Environment and Science on behalf of the Queensland Government. The agreement acknowledges a landholder’s commitment to protect their land, while allowing compatible and sustainable land uses to continue. The land under agreement is declared as a nature refuge, a class of protected area under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Properties are accepted into the Program based on their contribution to increasing the representation of Queensland’s biodiversity in protected areas. Factors such as conservation values, size, condition, long-term viability and connectivity are considered in assessing a potential nature refuge. Landowners are supported by nature refuge officers who provide advice on how to best protect the conservation values on their property. Establishing a nature refuge may also provide access to other programs that provide additional support, and financial support for conservation actions may also be available to landowners through the NatureAssist program. The Nature Refuges Program is complemented by a new class of private protected area in Queensland, a special wildlife reserve, that provides national-park level protections to private land of exceptional conservation value.