$2M grant for ANU to transform farm conservation

16 January 2017

The Australian National University (ANU) has received a $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to find ways to improve environmental management of farmlands.

Leading ecologist at ANU Professor David Lindenmayer AO, from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, was instrumental in ANU winning the Environment and Conservation grant from The Ian Potter Foundation, which funds research into excellence and innovation.

The funds will contribute to a $13.5 million five-year project headed by Professor Lindenmayer that aims to improve environmental, economic and social outcomes in rural Australia by helping farmers better manage their farms as natural assets.

"It's an exciting and critically important opportunity to improve the lives and finances of farmers and at the same time make a huge contribution to the conservation of wildlife on farms," he said.

Researchers will use more than 20 years of biodiversity and farm management data, collected from 350 farms from communities stretching from Northern Victoria, through NSW and into Southern Queensland.

"We want to show that a farm that is better managed environmentally will be better off financially, and also assist to improve the farmer's mental health and well-being," Professor Lindenmayer said.

"We want to help farmers make decisions and adopt practices that are ecologically sound, and focus on the farm's long-term sustainability."

Chairman of The Ian Potter Foundation Charles Goode AC said the Foundation was pleased to support the ANU project.

"The potential long-term value of improving agricultural management to ensure environmental, economic and social sustainability is far-reaching," Mr Goode said.

"The scale and ambition of this collaborative project are defining features.

"It has the potential to leverage well established existing partnerships to ensure the maximum breadth and depth of information dissemination is achieved to catalyse change, and to contribute to positive policy development within all levels of government."

Professor Lindenmayer said the ultimate aim of the project was to communicate, demonstrate and embed new farming practices so widely that they become 'the way things are done' within the next five years.