Gold Coast City, Australia Open Space Preservation Program
Status: Adopted in August 1999
Gold Coast City Council's Open Space Preservation Levy - Acquisition Program is one of the cornerstones of Council's Nature Conservation Strategy.
The program aims to acquire sites of the highest significance for nature conservation, particularly where other strategies are unable to achieve the required level of protection or where there is significant public benefit in protecting such sites through public ownership.
Through the program, threatened species are protected, wildlife corridors are created, significant scenic views are preserved and catchments are safeguarded.
In August 1999, Council unanimously endorsed a $21 million three-year strategy to acquire some of the city's most threatened and environmentally significant lands in accordance with the Open Space Preservation Levy Acquisition Policy.
The policy outlined an objective framework for nominating and assessing land.
Concluded in June 2003, the three year program acquired 23 sites covering a total area of 2424 hectares of the city's most ecologically and strategically significant natural areas at a cost of $19.3 million.
The areas acquired include a diverse array of natural communities distributed widely throughout the hinterland and coastal parts of the City.
Council is expanding its successful Open Space Preservation Program into a second phase.
In May 2003, Council resolved to commit $12.3 million to Phase two, expanding the program to cover areas of local and district significance, catchment protection and city-wide visual importance, as well as the original emphasis on conservation values.
Thirty-one sites embracing 52 parcels of land have been identified for prospective acquisition with 18 sites given priority consideration and 13 listed as alternate sites.
To date, 11 sites have been purchased in the areas of Tallebudgera Valley, Lower Beechmont, Numinbah Valley, Clagiraba, Guanaba, Austinville, Bonogin and Elanora bringing the total area of land acquired under Phase one and two of the program to 3137 hectares at a cost of $28.4 million.
These acquisitions complement nearly 16,640 hectares of other parks, reserves and bushland conservation areas that together amount to over 13 per cent of the total city area set aside as public land.
An innovative Revolving Fund had also been adopted as part of Phase two, helping the fund stretch further in protecting important sites. The fund will enable Council to purchase a site at market value, install a covenant which will protect all or part of its significant features and then on-sell the property.
This fund will allow Council to achieve a high level of protection of the open space values of a site, sell the property to a buyer who is ready and willing to take on a management role and recoup some of the purchase price for use elsewhere.
The Revolving Fund would be most suited to smaller, more isolated parcels of land. It is expected only about seven of the 31 prospective Phase two sites would be considered for the fund.