The Conservation Council of WA has joined the Pew Charitable Trusts, WA Landcare Network, and South Coast NRM in welcoming the State Government’s announcement today that it will invest in conservation and land management jobs to boost Western Australia’s economic recovery.
The jobs plan, announced by Premier Mark McGowan and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, is intended to provide unemployed and underemployed Western Australians with temporary nature-based employment as the economy recovers from COVID-19. The $60 million package includes new funding commitments, environmental offset funds and previously announced funding.
“Communities and conservation groups across the state will be encouraged by this initiative as a step towards realising the huge opportunity that exists for job creation and environmental benefits in WA through investment in the conservation economy,” said Piers Verstegen, Director, Conservation Council of WA, and member of the WA government COVID Recovery Advisory Group.
“The initiative shows the McGowan government is responding to community sentiment which backs conservation, clean energy and the care economy as top priorities for the recovery, rather than investments in gas infrastructure and cutting red tape for the mining industry. These projects have the potential to unlock significant job opportunities while leaving a positive legacy for the environment and communities, and we look forward to more investment in the conservation economy as the government rolls out its COVID-19 response over the coming months,” said Mr Verstegen.
“Today’s announcement shows real leadership by the McGowan Government. This investment will provide practical work and economic benefits for WA communities while leaving lasting benefits for the environment, farmers and tourism businesses,” said Tim Nicol, WA Manager, Pew Charitable Trusts.
“As the full economic impacts of COVID-19 become clearer in coming months, we encourage the McGowan Government to build on today’s announcement by making further investment in nature-based jobs,” said Mr Nicol.
“Conservation and farming organisations have been working with state and federal governments to highlight the opportunity for jobs in the conservation and land management sector to deliver practical, hands-on work for regional and remote communities,” said Justin Bellanger, CEO of South Coast NRM.
“This package will support local people working on local projects and help build resilience in our communities, our agricultural landscapes and the natural environment,” said Mick Davis, Chair of the WA Landcare Network. “This sort of hands-on positive work is vital for our state to recover from the impact of COVID-19.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts, WA Landcare Network, CCWA and South Coast NRM are part of a coalition of over 70 conservation and farming organisations  which came together to develop a plan for economic stimulus through a large scale conservation and land management program. This coalition released a report on the economic benefits of the proposed program earlier this month. 
The Pew Charitable Trusts is an international research and public policy organisation that works in Australia to promote conservation and sustainable management of Outback landscapes and the marine environment, working in partnership with landholders, industry, traditional owners, scientists and conservation organisations.
The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s peak conservation organisation, representing more than 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia.
South Coast NRM is the leading independent natural resource management organisation in the south coast region of Western Australia.
WA Landcare Network is the peak state landcare body established to represent and support landcare groups across the state and at the national level.
 The coalition of groups includes Landcare, the National Farmers Federation, NRM Regions Australia, the Australian Land Conservation Alliance and the Australian Conservation Foundation. Western Australian groups include all the Western Australian NRM (Natural Resource Management) organisations, Conservation Council of WA, the WA Landcare Network and Environs Kimberley.
 The Ernst and Young analysis found that Denmark, Augusta, Margaret River, Broome, Wyndham-East Kimberley and Busselton are predicted to be the hardest hit local government areas in Western Australia as JobKeeper wage subsidies are phased out. The analysis also found that the benefits of investment in conservation and land management jobs as part of economic stimulus include:
- The ability to employ many workers with no previous experience in conservation and land management work, allowing people who have lost their jobs in other sectors to participate in the program.
- The creation of thousands of jobs in the conservation and land management sector, which will reduce the demand for welfare payments such as JobSeeker and Youth Allowance.
- The ability to temporarily transfer workers who have lost their job in different industries may prevent displacement of people to other regions.
- The nature of the program, which involves many labour-intensive tasks, means that much of the work can be completed in a Covid-19 safe environment.
- The potential for participants in the program to upskill or retrain in conservation and land management roles, ensuring the creation of practical and transferable skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership and job readiness.
- The proposed activities build on existing models and mechanisms, which will help drive the success of the program.
- The increase in conservation and land management efforts has the potential to improve future agricultural productivity and reduce the cost of restoration of degraded environments.