Gilbertn Station's Lyn French talks Nature Refuges

Our property Gilberton Station has been occupied by the family for seven generations, and the family’s focus has always been on environmental sustainability. It’s important to maintain land condition as that is the bottom line of profitability.

Historical attitudes toward the land and what it can produce are so out of date. We see so often people over-stocking in North Queensland simply to bump up their profits.The growing expectation that every square inch of your land could and should be used to produce more has always raised growing concern with us.

We were originally approached by Department of Environmental and Heritage Protection in 2006, about protecting some natural springs we have on the station. At that stage, like many graziers our first thoughts were: what do they want here and why?

They explained the Nature Refuges program, a Queensland Government program that works with landholders to protect parts of our land for conservation, while still allowing sustainable use of that land. The program provided funding to fence our springs to protect them - but still allows us to water our cattle.

We started the process of converting sections of our property into a Nature Refuge in 2009.

After the first nature refuge was done, we realised this was a way to help us move forward in our business by accessing funds that not only helped the natural environment but helped us reach our goal of drought-proofing our country at the same time as being recognised as good land managers and protecting the land.

By 2017, our whole property was declared as a Nature Refuge.

The benefits for us have been enormous. It’s a big step towards reaching our 50 year goal of drought proofing Gilberton. It’s helped us increase productivity while at the same time being sustainable and delivering a better eco and aqua system, not only for us but the whole community.

Helping control our conservation management has ensured that the environmental assets and sustainability of our property is protected into the future for our grandchildren future generations.

I’d love to see the Government commit more funds to the expansion of the Nature Refuges program and I think that it’s a program all landholders should consider. After all, if we don’t look after the land, it wont look after us."