Wednesday 1 March 2017
By David Maxwell

The Ginninderry project will create a 595 hectare conservation corridor along the Murrumbidgee River and Ginninderra Creek. In addition to its role in protecting important endangered species and ecological communities, the corridor will be a great asset for nature based recreation for the Belconnen community; it will cross the border and include land in both the ACT and NSW.

Local community input to the management of the corridor will be important and to ensure that this happens it is proposed to set up an environmental management trust (EMT), the trust will manage all of the land in the corridor and be run by a board of directors that includes elected representatives from the local community.

The trust arrangement will enable the community to be represented in decision-making about the corridor, and it will ensure a uniform management structure on both sides of the border. The trust will be funded from the project and will also be able to benefit from revenue streams associated with recreation, tourism and education within the corridor, and use these funds to secure sound conservation management into the future.

Similar trust arrangements have emerged in Australia and overseas where commercial opportunities are married with land management priorities to support long-term conservation gains and cover reserve running costs.

The pre-eminent objectives of the Trust would be conservation of natural values and bushfire fuel management. Other objectives pertaining to education, research, recreation, tourism, and community involvement would also inform Trust operations.

The Trust would be administered by a company (the Company) with a skills-based board comprising government, community, and other relevant stakeholder representatives. A Land Management Committee, a Social Sustainability Committee, and a Public Fund Committee would be set up to ensure objectives pertaining to land management, community engagement, and funds management are achieved, respectively.

The Land Management Committee would be responsible for upholding and reviewing a plan of management that meets legislative obligations and provides for conservation of natural values and bushfire fuel management. It would provide technical advice as necessary, manage recreational uses of the land, and facilitate tertiary-level research opportunities in the corridor.

The Social Sustainability Committee would be responsible for ensuring participatory process through liaising with residents regarding community aspirations and priorities, informing the community about activities, facilitating community participation in events, and managing volunteers interested in contributing to management of the corridor.

The Public Fund Committee would assist with the financial sustainability of the Trust by recommending to the board how budgets are allocated and spent and by investigating fundraising opportunities. Such opportunities may be through government grants, various types of private contributions, or through other forms of social enterprise within West Belconnen.

The Project would deliver, through a staged approach, the initial capital works within the corridor and absorb any related costs until such assets are handed over to the Trust. The Trust would earn annual income for its operations through the contribution of a percentage of sale proceeds from NSW lots and an annual contribution from the ACT Government equal to those costs of managing the ACT portion of the corridor.

For more information about the Trust you can download a full report here and to learn more about what it will mean for Ginninderra Falls click here.