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Healthy Land Healthy Rivers

The Healthy Land, Healthy Rivers program is a key initiative of 'Logan's Rivers and Wetlands Recovery Plan 2014-2024'.

Healthy Land, Healthy Rivers provides landholders with advice and support to undertake practical and easily implemented sustainable land management practices.  The program offers property owners a number of tools to encourage improved environmental condition in a way that supports or value-adds to the farm business.

By working together to achieve healthy land and healthy rivers, we can all play a role in supporting the lifestyle, productivity and sustainability of our rural communities.

Developing a property management plan is one of the most effective ways to help you achieve your desired outcomes for your property.  Follow the steps below to help you develop your own property management plan for your property.

An introductory guide to property management planning in Logan

Our rural and semi-rural landscapes are a major feature across Logan and a key liveability characteristic for our community. The health of our rivers is significantly impacted by how this land is managed. From a rural production point of view, poor land management can translate to lost pasture productivity, increased input costs and reduced flood/drought resilience. 

Practical and easily implemented land management practices can improve the environmental condition of your property in a way that supports, improves or value-add to the farm business.

Developing a property management plan (PMP) is one of the most effective ways to help you achieve your desired outcomes for your property.

Furthermore, a well-thought-out plan can help you identify opportunities for participation in incentive programs such as the conservation incentives program (CIP), Landcare or the Logan City Council (LCC) EnviroGrants program.

A written PMP provides an organised way to turn your vision into reality and can help you:

  • focus goals
  • create realistic budgets and timeframes
  • understand the capability of your property to support your business or lifestyle
  • sustain or improve the environmental condition of your land
  • sustain or improve the productivity of your land
  • apply for funding grants for on-ground actions.

Download a copy of the Property Management Planning Guide or for more information about the Healthy Land, Healthy Rivers Program, please email environment@logan.qld.gov.au.

Why should i develop a property management plan?

Developing a property management plan (PMP) is one of the most effective ways to help you achieve your desired outcomes for your property.

Furthermore, a well-thought-out plan can help you identify opportunities for participation in incentive programs such as the Conservation Incentives Program (CIP), Landcare or the Logan City Council (LCC) EnviroGrants program.

A written PMP provides an organised way to turn your vision into reality and can help you:

  • focus goals
  • create realistic budgets and timeframes
  • understand the capability of your property to support your business or lifestyle
  • sustain or improve the environmental condition of your land.
  • sustain or improve the productivity of your land.
  • apply for funding grants for on-ground actions.

The planning process

Property management plans can be as simple as a map with a few pages outlining key actions or a more detailed report covering all aspects of farm business and natural resource management.

The more time you spend in developing a detailed PMP, the more useful it can be in achieving your vision.

Step 1 - What is my vision for my property?

Thinking about how you picture your property and your lifestyle in the future is the first step towards developing a successful PMP.This process helps you think about what your property is capable of in the long term and what infrastructure and natural resources you may need to achieve your vision.

It's important to note that as you gain a better understanding of your property characteristics, you may re-evaluate, refine or re-imagine your vision to better reflect your property's capacity.

Things to consider:

  • the time and money you can afford to invest
  • the level of income you may want to generate from your property
  • the future value of the property
  • finding a balance between a healthy environment and agriculture
  • where your property sits in the surrounding landscape
  • the city’s planning scheme requirements and applicable state and federal legislation.

Step 2 - What does my property look like now?

Get yourself a property map

Finding where your property is in the landscape and creating a map is an important second step in the PMP process.Mapping your property will help you better understand its potential and will allow you to identify:

  • built infrastructure (sheds, house, cattle yards)
  • natural assets and features (creek lines, dams, soil type, topography, vegetation)
  • risks/concerns that you need to consider
  • native and domestic animal needs/requirements.It's also worthwhile to check out the Logan City Council Planning Scheme to ensure your property goals align with the land use constraints for your area.Logan City Council can help you with developing a map of your property. Contact the Health, Environment and Waste (HEW) Branch at LCC (environment@logan.qld.gov.au) to obtain a property map report and aerial photo (either A3 or A2 size).

The standard map report will include:

  • x aerial photos of your property (one can be used to draw on)
  • ecological significance map
  • geology map
  • soils map.

When emailing HEW, please include:

  • your location details (lot and plan number)
  • your name
  • contact phone number
  • your postal address (if you prefer this option of delivery instead of email)
  • your email address
  • aerial photo size preference: printed A3 and/or digital A2 (to be printed at owner's expense)
  • any additional information you think might help us provide the right maps.

Gather information about your property

The easiest way to do this is to draw directly on your map by hand. We'll provided you with two copies in case you need to start over. On the aerial photo map, you'll want to note down the location of natural assets and built infrastructure. Natural assets could include native vegetation and habitat, waterways, paddocks, dams, soils. Built infrastructure includes fences, watering troughs, buildings, vehicle tracks etc. You may also find it easier to tackle the planning process by dividing up your property into sections according to your PMP goals.

It is also important to gather information about the topography (eg. slope, direction of overland water flow) and climate (available at www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/) of your property. Getting to know these characteristics of your property will help determine the capability of your land to support your day to day business and your long-term vision. Remember to include long-term seasonal observations. Understanding the soils and the way water moves across the land can inform important decisions around the location of fencing, pasture productivity and critical spots to maintain or establish vegetation. These characteristics can vary quite a bit across your property. YourPMP will help you place each land use in the most suitable spots.

Step 3 – What are my goals and abjectives?

Now that you have taken inventory of your property assets, geography and natural features and reflected on the appropriateness of your vision, it's time to set some goals and objectives to help achieve this vision.

Goals

Your goal setting should consider these four themes:

  1. natural resource goals
  2. lifestyle goals
  3. financial goals
  4. production goals.

The focus of your goals should be a clear reflection of your property vision.It's also good to identify property ‘hot spots’ which may require more immediate or intensive action. For example, a rapidly eroding stream bank or an area of high value native vegetation.

Make sure your goals are clear and always focused on achieving your vision. It is a good idea to regularly review your goals to make sure they are consistent with your vision and capabilities.

Objectives

The next planning task is to develop a series of objectives to help you achieve your goals.

These objectives will help you target the actions you need to undertake to achieve your property goals.

Table 1 Example of goals and objectives

Goal 1: To have a clean and healthy creekGoal 2: To have a healthy natural environment that for wildlife
Objective 1: Exclude cattle from the creek and establish off-stream wateringObjective 1: Undertake weed management in areas assigned to native bushland
Objective 2: Identify the plant species along the creekObjective 2: Improve native species pasture productivity and health

Tip: Take some time now to develop a set of objectives aligned to your property goals.

Prioritising your objectives

Once you have a set of objectives for each of your goals, you’ll want to compare the difficulty, impact and resource requirements of each objective to determine how best to proceed.The table below shows you how you might compare objectives.A simple scoring system to rank each consideration can be used.

How you decide to actually score your objective considerations is entirely up to you. The most important outcome is that each score allows you to realistically compare the order of achievability for your objectives.This will in turn help achieve the best overall result from your investment in time and money.

Table 2 Example of an approach to use to prioritise objectives

ObjectiveDifficultyPositive Impact (1=most, 5=least)TimeMoneyTotal score
Undertake weed management in areas assigned to native bushland242210
Improve native pasture productivity and health414413

Step 4 - Create the action plan

Now that you have compared your objectives, it's time to develop specific action plans to help meet those objectives.  Each action plan you create should focus on something quite specific and should be achievable within any time and financial restrictions you might have.

Table 3 Example of how to assign actions

Objective 1Action numberAction description
To exclude cattle from the creek1Create a costed plan for installing fencing to exclude cattle from the creek
 2Apply for a Logan City Council EnviroGrant to help fund the fencing project
 3Install off-stream watering points
 4Install fencing

Tip: Action-planning for your goals can help support your Logan City Council EnviroGrant.

Next, you will need to create a plan for how you will complete each action. The table below provides an example of the first step in an action plan.

Table 4 Example of how you to prepare an action plan

Action ItemCompletion date$ InvestmentTime InvestmentPriority
Install an additional water trough in the north-west paddockMarch

Dozer hire $800

Trough $300

Poly pipe etc. $100

2-daysHigh

Great work. So far you have:

  • gathered all relevant property information
  • reassessed your vision for your property
  • set out your goals and objectives, and
  • created your action plan for achieving these objectives. The next (and possibly most important) step is to tackle the budget.

Step 5 - Budget and cash flow

To ensure the success of your property plan it’s important to know you can afford to deliver your proposed actions.

Your budget may just be a summary of your action costs from Step 4 - in which case you may be happy to wrap up your planning process here and proceed directly to Step 6.

If you are interested in developing a more detailed cash flow accounting that includes all income streams in addition to property maintenance and action costs, this next section is for you.

Let’s look first at where you’ll need to invest. Once you have determined this, it's a good idea to examine the income/cash flow side of your property management.

Understand your property managemnet costs

A good starting point is to consider your day-to-day property maintenance costs. These might include infrastructure repairs, weed and erosion control, and equipment maintenance.

Other cost categories might include animal husbandry, new or replacement equipment, new infrastructure, or vegetation development such as pasture or native flora development.

Identifying new income opportunities

As you learn more about the capabilities of your property, you may start to think about the opportunities for generating income - to perhaps simply cover your maintenance costs, or as an additional lifestyle contribution.

Opportunities might include:

  • raising / breeding animals
  • growing crops, fruit, vegetables, or flowers
  • ecotourism - eg. Farm tours or farm stays.

Things to consider as you think about new income opportunities include:

  • your property vision
  • land and location suitability
  • council planning scheme constraints
  • start-up and ongoing costs
  • ongoing time investment and physical effort.

Once you have a specific income opportunity in mind, you should consider preparing a detailed business plan to test the validity of your thinking.

Contact the Logan City Council Business Support program on 3412 4888 or LOED@logan.qld.gov.au for further advice on identifying and developing new business opportunities.

Develop a cash-flow chart

Now you have a set of goals and action plans, considered your property management costs and thought about identifying new income opportunities, it’s time to build a cash flow chart. An example of a cash flow chart can be found in Appendix 3. As you assemble your chart, consider:

  • On-hand capital
  • Disposable income you will assign to your property management plan from off-property work or on-property revenue streams
  • Loans or grants
  • Property maintenance and capital project costs.

Step 6 - Turning your property management plan into reality

To ensure the success of your property management plan, it’s important to be flexible and revisit your goals and action plans, to ensure they are prioritised, as well as being balanced across your lifestyle, financial, production, and natural resource needs.

To improve delivery or your property management plan, it's a good idea to stay updated on current best practice property management advice.

Finally, being open-minded and ready to adapt or update your vision/goals as you regularly (eg. every 1 to 3 years) review your PMP is the best way to ensure you are on track to achieving your property vision.