nourished by a winding waterway on the Great Cumbung
Reed swamps nourished by a winding waterway on the Great Cumbung © Peter Stephen

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TNC saves huge Murray-Darling wetland with record purchase

The Nature Conservancy Australia, in a joint venture with Tiverton Agriculture, has purchased the Juanbung and Boyong cattle stations in western NSW, along with the properties’ water rights, for $55 million. The deal is the most valuable private conservation-focussed purchase in Australia’s history and will protect almost the entire extent of the Great Cumbung Swamp from conversion to irrigated cropping. 

Saving the Great Cumbung learn more about what's at stake

Uniquely located at the confluence of the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee rivers, the Great Cumbung is one of the largest and most important wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin. It is home to 131 bird species and more than 200 plant species.

Announcing the purchase[1], TNC Country Director Rich Gilmore said, “today, more than ever, we need science-based, pragmatic solutions that deliver benefits for people and nature. If we are to save the Basin’s rivers and the communities that depend on them, conservationists, irrigators and Governments must come together and act with courage, urgency and optimism.”  

In addition to wetland conservation and water recovery, the Great Cumbung will continue to support economic development and jobs in the Riverina. Tiverton will manage the property for the dual objectives of conservation and sustainable agriculture. “We look forward to managing this outstanding property and exploring future sustainable land use options such as carbon, biodiversity offsets and stewardship, and ecotourism”, said Tiverton Director, Nigel Sharp.

The Great Cumbung will be managed in conjunction with the 87,000-hectare Gayini Nimmie-Caira property, which was purchased for conservation by the NSW Government in 2012 and is now managed by TNC and Nari Nari Tribal Council. Tribal Council Chair Ian Woods said “Nari Nari people are very supportive of the purchase and we look forward to working with TNC and Tiverton at the Great Cumbung and Gayini Nimmie-Caira”.   

Some of Australia’s most respected investors and philanthropists are supporting TNC’s work in the Murray-Darling including John B. Fairfax AO, The Ian Potter Foundation, the Besen family and the Baillieu Myer family’s Yulgilbar Foundation. Funding was also provided by the US-based Wyss Foundation and the Wyss Campaign for Nature. Bank finance has been provided by ANZ Agribusiness. TNC is seeking more financial support to undertake further protection of the Great Cumbung and other important wetlands.

[1] Formal settlement on the property acquisitions will take place in mid-February 2019.

34,000 hectares of precious swamps and forests
The Great Cumbung 34,000 hectares of precious swamps and forests © Tim Roberts-Thompson

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we focus on getting things done efficiently and with the greatest positive impact for conservation. We’re a trusted organisation working in 72 countries on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We’re tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, visit our website or follow us on Facebook.