The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) is the Australian Government’s key investment platform for achieving its natural resource management, sustainable agriculture and environmental protection outcomes.
Through the NHT the Australian Government has established the $302.1 million Climate-Smart Agriculture program over five years from 2023-24 for climate-smart, sustainable agriculture projects. This Program will drive agricultural sustainability, productivity, and competitiveness. It supports the following program outcomes:
- the agriculture sector is adopting practices to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.
- the agriculture sector is supported to harness carbon and biodiversity incentives and implement industry sustainability frameworks.
- farmers are supported to drive agricultural growth, while adopting sustainable natural resource management practices that protect and conserve natural capital and biodiversity.
The Climate-Smart Agriculture Program is comprised of the following investment streams:
- $45 million Partnerships and Innovation grants – to be run as 2 rounds of competitive grants for medium to large scale projects to drive the development, trialling, adoption and roll-out of climate-smart, sustainable, innovative tools and on-ground farm practices that increase the agriculture sector’s productivity and profitability.
- $15 million Capacity Building grants – to be run as 2 rounds of competitive grants for medium scale projects to support initiatives that help build capacity in climate-smart, sustainable agriculture, including national-level capacity building activities. The grants will build on the success of existing climate-smart, sustainable agriculture projects, initiatives and information sources, and support enhanced collaboration and partnerships in the sector.
- $8.4 million Soil Capacity Building grants – will invest $6.2 million for a team of Regional Soils Coordinators and $2.2 million for a National Soils Community of Practice to support networks for researchers, primary producers, and community groups to work together, and provide a forum for soil practitioners to share the latest soil science information and tools.
- $27.6 million Soil Health Information initiative – will invest $6 million to enhance the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) to make soil data available nationally and $21.6 million for a National Soil Monitoring Program.
- $13 million Small Grants – to be run as 4 rounds of competitive grants for on-ground focussed projects that are led by community groups, individual organisations, Landcare groups, First Nations groups and research organisations. These small grants will support the adoption of sustainable agriculture best-practice that improves management of our natural resources and increases on-farm productivity.
The Climate-Smart Agriculture Program also recognises the vital role that Regional Delivery Partners and National Landcare organisations provide in achieving sustainable agriculture and natural resource management outcomes. The following investment elements will support this:
- $8.6 million for Supporting National Landcare Organisations - operational funding – jointly funded with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to support our National Landcare Organisations to maintain their capacity, and ensure they are primed to deliver NHT outcomes efficiently and at scale.
- $27.1 million for Regional Delivery Partner operational funding – to support the operational capacity of a national network of Regional Delivery Partners to deliver NHT outcomes efficiently and at scale.
- $85.6 million for Regional Delivery Partner Project Funding – for Regional Delivery Partners to initiate practical, on-ground, climate-smart, sustainable agriculture projects across 52 regions in Australia.
- $40.7 million for Sustainable Agriculture Facilitators – to provide a national network of facilitators employed by each of the Regional Delivery Partners. The facilitators will connect farmers, landholders, community groups and agriculture industries to relevant information and programs on climate-smart, sustainable agriculture practices; facilitate partnerships and connections; and support the delivery of sustainable agriculture projects in their region.
These investments will also strengthen First Nations engagement and participation to enable the agriculture sector to draw benefits from traditional knowledge and support First Nations agricultural enterprise.
Through the program’s effective on-ground projects, the government will support farmers to manage climate risks and invest in their on-farm natural capital and effective natural resources management, helping the sector to respond to climate change, better withstand future bushfires, floods and droughts and protect its productivity.
- Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Program announcement October 2023
- Climate-smart sustainable agriculture 2023-24 Budget factsheet
- Environmental and joint components of the NHT, including the Panel of Regional Delivery Partners
The previous phase of the NHT included $1 billion for Phase 2 of the National Landcare Program, which funded a range of natural resource management projects to June 2023.
This webpage will be updated regularly over the duration of the Climate-Smart Agriculture Program (current phase of the NHT).