How to leave a living legacy

Biodiversity Legacy was formed with a singular vision – to give landholders, community groups, environmental organisations and donors greater security in protecting the land they love for future generations.

With the assistance of Maddocks Lawyers, we created an alternative pathway to land conservation.

This structure enables land to be transferred into a safe ownership structure that supports in-perpetuity habitat protection and ongoing locally-led stewardship. It takes land out of insecure ownership structures (e.g. private property market) to be returned to community ownership so that local groups can access and care for the land without having to own it.

The approach can be tailored to the landholder or donor’s vision and circumstances; for example, family lifetime tenancy arrangements can be made to enable descendants to keep using the land. We also encourage innovative land uses, such as regenerative farming and eco-tourism. 

To support the transfer process, Biodiversity Legacy provides advice, governance, legal documentation, networking and other forms of support – read more below.

Ownership structure

The technical term for Biodiversity Legacy landholding entities is a ‘Company Limited by Guarantee’. This is a legal entity with no shareholders; the organisation cannot be owned by any individual or group and is instead governed by a constitution overseen by its members.

This company type supports a not-for-profit, charitable entity that is constitutionally bound to the purpose of ‘advancing the natural environment’, meaning that the types of activities occurring on the land must be ‘nature-positive’.

Governance

These local landholding entities are community-governed by relevant individuals and/or community members and designed to operate independently and at local scales with stewardship arrangements that foster partnerships and collaboration.

Biodiversity Legacy offers the appropriate governance to ensure the perpetual protection of properties into the future. It does not intend to be the property owner, although it can act as an interim landowner to support the local context or until the landholding entity has been established.

Selection criteria

For us to move forward, properties and projects need to have collaborative support, by which we mean the ongoing involvement of local groups such as Landcare, Traditional Custodians, environmental NGOs, councils, ecological specialists, other relevant parties – or the potential to build these connections.

There are a few key filters we draw from to make sure we can support your project. Please contact use to learn more.

Key audiences

Landholders

Who own and care for properties with biodiversity values or have revegetated properties. When the time comes to move on, these landholders need a pathway to ensure their life’s work is not undone.

Government agencies and regional authorities

As a not-for-profit organisation, we have the legal and ethical frameworks in place to enable the transition of public land to community stewardship.

Environmental groups

Many conservation projects have a limited lifespan and succession plans are required to ensure the safeguarding of those efforts. In most cases, Biodiversity Legacy can assist with the planning and transition.

 

Philanthropic pathway

Biodiversity Legacy encourages and has the legal and ethical frameworks in place to help donors and philanthropists protect the landscapes they love.

For example, individuals and families can directly donate properties. In this case, BDL will work with you to understand your vision and consider various options for stewardship.

Individuals and philanthropists can also make direct financial donations to secure vulnerable properties.

An example here would be – a local landholder or community group is making efforts to secure an important property but may not have the capital. Financial donations in these scenarios can be the catalyst for major change.

Our Deductible Gift Recipient status enables all sorts of investors to make tax-deductible donations.

Stewardship

As the land ‘asset’ is appropriately held in the safe land ownership structure, the stewardship entity can be under a more relaxed structure, e.g. a community not-for-profit such as an Incorporated Association. 

Flexible stewardship arrangements allow for the inevitable ebbs and flows that occur with individual/community stewardship groups, including stewardship changes over time (e.g. from a landowner to a Traditional Custodian group).

Rather than imposing stewardship, we support grassroots organisations where place-based, local knowledge is combined with specialised advice and partnerships to provide the best care for the land. In particular, we’d be looking to support next gen stewardship (the BDL structure allows for the stewardship entity to change over time).

Who are our stewards?

Depending on local context, activities that support stewardship include but are not limited to: 

  • Stewardship by Traditional Custodian groups and relevant partners
  • Stewardship by existing environmental NGOs and relevant partners
  • Stewardship by existing landholders and relevant partners
  • Stewardship by community group/s such as Landcare or councils
  • Stewardship by existing landholders supported by Trust for Nature management plan or other State equivalent covenanting body
  • Stewardship by the existing occupying landholder and a potential pathway to transition future stewardship to any of the above-mentioned groups.

It starts with listening

Given that each property and circumstance is different, we start by listening to individuals and communities to understand their vision and find ways to support them. We also look at the broader landscape to assess where there is biolinking potential and/or opportunities for collaboration. These conversations are based on mutual values-alignment and genuine intent by the landowner or community group to preserve habitat for future generations.

Top banner image: Yellow-footed Antechinus, Strangways Vic, with thanks to Patrick Kavanagh.