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    PROUD: Tim Inkster stands on his family’s Antwerp property. The family has partnered with environment protection agency Trust for Nature, volunteering to place a conservation covenant on their land. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Inkster's assure protection for generations


A historically significant site on a Wimmera-Mallee share farm has become the focus of ‘vital’ environmental conservation work. 

After a family committed more than five years to environmental recovery efforts, a nature reserve on the former site of iconic Australian producer, Bosisto’s, is now protected forever.

Antwerp’s Inkster family bought the property in 2013 and has committed to permanently protecting a 20-hectare area along the Wimmera River, which runs through its broadacre cropping farm.  

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The family partnered with environment protection agency Trust for Nature, volunteering to place a conservation covenant on their land, ensuring generational protection of their recovery work.  

When Tim and Ben Inkster jointly bought the 2700 hectares of agricultural land, they quickly started the recovery work on riparian corridors along the river.

The family teamed up with Hindmarsh Landcare Network in 2015 and has since planted 10,000 plants including trees, understory and grasses and excluded livestock, aiding the recovery of grassy woodlands. 

Their work, coupled with a minor flood, has greatly increased the biodiversity of native plant and animal species in the area. 

The brothers highly value the land, where they had previously camped and fished in their youth. 

Tim Inkster on his Antwerp property that has a Trust for Nature section along the Wimmera River.

Ben’s partner Melanie Wallis also remembers a time she used to visit the site as a teenager. 

Ms Wallis said the land not only had environmental importance but also had sentimental value for the whole family. 

“When we bought the property, we were keen to conserve as much of the old-growth woodland as we could,” she said. 

“It’s always had a special place in our hearts – we used to go there as kids, camping, fishing and swimming. The land is spectacular, right on the bank of the Wimmera River with red gums and black box trees.” 

Ms Wallis said she had noticed recovering riparian corridors had attracted more wildlife. 

“We certainly noticed a regeneration of wildlife when the understory came back,” she said. 

“There’s fairly abundant bird life – we see a lot of kookaburras, lizards, invertebrates, bearded dragons and snakes. 

“We know those riparian corridors are vital for animals to be able to move from one area to the other.” 

Ms Wallis said it was particularly important for her to include her children in the conservation work. 

“When you look at the big picture with the environment and things like global-warming – they feel really big  and people generally put them in the ‘too hard’ basket,” she said. 

“But it actually starts with you and your kids and developing a better relationship with nature and teaching your kids to appreciate it. 

“It’s something I’ve been passionate about since I was young, too.” 

Ms Wallis said she believed it was important businesses found a balance between environmental responsibilities and running a sustainable enterprise. 

“When you’re a business or industry, you look at how you reconcile those beliefs with being a profitable business,” she said.

“I think the covenant was a no-brainer for us, that we would protect a very valuable piece of environment.”

Trust for Nature Southwest Victoria area manager Adam Blake helped the family develop the conservation covenant. 

He said it was crucial for protection agencies to work with landowners to conserve remaining biodiversity and  urged landowners to consider protecting bushland on their properties.

“We encourage people to think about the important legacy of protecting bushland,” he said.

“Any landowner can make that commitment anywhere in Victoria, and assessments are no cost and no obligation.

“The extent of clearing we’ve had in Victoria is great. Two thirds of the state and an even greater proportion of the Wimmera is private land. 

“Of that, there’s only a fraction that has conservation value and where we can protect biodiversity. 

“By protecting with a covenant, we absolutely prevent any future owner developing a site and removing important cultural and environmental values.” 

Mr Blake said loss and fragmentation of habitat in western Victoria across generations was pushing more animal and plant species to the brink of extinction. 

The work to protect the property is supported by the State Government.

The entire May 27, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire May 27, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!