Historic donation to The Nature Conservancy supports protection of unique biodiversity haven by Queensland Government

A tree on the Vergemont Property, QLD at sunset
Vergemont Station, Longreach Vergemont Station Longreach QLD; photographed by Ian WIlkinson © QPWS 2024

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A $21 million donation to The Nature Conservancy - most likely the single largest donation to buy land for conservation in Australian history - has supported the purchase of more than 300,000 hectares of Channel Country in western Queensland for the national park estate.

Dr James Fitzsimons, The Nature Conservancy’s Global Protection Senior Advisor, said the acquisition was slightly larger than the Yosemite National Park in the United States, and was a significant achievement for conservation in Queensland and in Australia.

“The purchase of Vergemont Station by the Queensland Government will create a conservation corridor of about 1.4 million hectares, including key habitat for the endangered Night Parrot and highly restricted Opalton Grasswren, and protects the headwaters of the Lake Eyre Basin, the source of one of the last remaining free-flowing arid river systems in the world.”

He said the acquisition would also make an important contribution to Australia’s efforts to protect 30% of lands and 30% of oceans by 2030 (known as 30x30).

“In order to reach 30x30 and to protect Australia’s unique species, innovative financing mechanisms are key. The purchase of Vergemont is a fantastic demonstration that philanthropists are interested in working with governments and conservation organisations to support Australia’s effort for nature,” Dr Fitzsimons said. 

Quote: Lara Gallagher

The extremely generous donation TNC received for Vergemont highlights the power of leveraged gifts, enabling philanthropists and governments alike to achieve outcomes far beyond what is possible alone.

Interim Managing Director

“It is also a testament to the commitment and dedication of the anonymous donor to secure this amazing property for conservation and the protection of the native fauna and flora which call it home.”

Vergemont, located 110 km west of Longreach in the Channel Country bioregion, will be a significant addition to Queensland’s protected area estate, ranking higher than 90% of existing national parks for regional ecosystem representation. It contains 34 regional ecosystems, important habitat refugia and the largest tracks of eight regional ecosystems on a single property.

Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leanne Linard said: The acquisition of Vergemont sees the total area of land currently protected or acquired for future dedication as protected areas push over 15 million hectares for the first time.

“Dedication of Vergemont Station, and the recently acquired Tonkoro and Melrose Stations, as national park, will also generate a range of economic activity in the local region.

In November 2023, The Nature Conservancy and other conservation organisations published the Pathways to 30x30 report, which provided recommendations to the Australian Government on how to reach 30x30. A key recommendation of the report is the creation of $5 billion dedicated land acquisition fund to bring high-value conservation land into the protected area estate.

“With several decades of experience in the purchase and protection of important properties for conservation, TNC is ready to work with interested donors to make sure we protect our unique Australian plants and wildlife at scale,” Ms Gallagher said. 

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 more than 70 countries and territories around the world on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, follow us on Facebook.