QEII has secured an $8 million investment over four years to work with government agencies, local government, community groups and landowners across Aotearoa New Zealand to provide legal protection of Jobs for Nature funded projects on private land.

Since our inception in 1977, our partnerships have created a growing network of over 4,800 protected areas throughout Aotearoa, ranging from small backyard patches to huge swathes of high country.

These covenants protect more than 180,000 ha of private land and play a hugely critical role as a refuge for some of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered biodiversity and ecosystems. This funding, through the Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature programme, allows to do more of this important work in partnership with landowners over the next four years.

We want to work with you to ensure the time, effort, and investment you or your agency/organisation is putting into conservation projects on private land is safeguarded in the future. With a significant amount of money going into fencing, weed control, pest management and other conservation activities in some of these places, it makes sense to also put legal protection over the area, to ensure it remains as it is forever, with ongoing support and advice from our regional reps.

We’re working with recipients of Jobs for Nature funding on private land to offer two forms of legal protection, open space covenants and restoration agreements. Find out more about both below

Where suitable, our gold standard form of protection, Open Space Covenants are used. Open Space Covenants are QEII’s existing mechanism for protection on private land. Many Jobs for Nature projects will be suitable for protection by Open Space Covenant (OSC). OSCs will be used where landowners want to protect areas of private land that are receiving Jobs for Nature funding and that have high existing biodiversity values and meet QEII’s criteria for protection by OSC.

OSCs are perpetual agreements, where the landowner commits to ongoing management and stewardship of their protected land. QEII regional representatives will provide monitoring visits every 2-3 years, as well as advice and encouragement, and landowners have access to the Stephenson Fund. The key cost associated with establishing a covenant is fencing for stock exclusion. In most cases QEII matches the cost of the fencing with the landowner (50:50 of remaining cost after any third-party contribution, with the exception of deer fencing, where QEII pays up to 60% of the costs for fencing).

See our Protecting the Gains factsheet for more information.

A new form of legal protection, called a ‘Restoration Agreement’, has been developed for Jobs for Nature projects that do not have strong enough existing biodiversity values to meet the Open Space Covenant criteria for protection in perpetuity. Restoration Agreements act as an intermediate step to secure the biodiversity values of a site while they transition toward potential protection by Open Space Covenant. We’re expecting piloting this approach in early 2022.

A Restoration Agreement is an intermediate step to secure potential biodiversity values while an area develops to the point where it would warrant full Open Space Covenant status, for example an area of regenerating or revegetated bush or wetland. While Open Space Covenants require established biodiversity values, Restoration Agreements can be used much earlier.

More information about Restoration Agreements can be found here.

If you’re a local council or community group facilitating a Jobs for Nature project on private land, or a landowner who has had any kind of JfN work done on your land and you think your project could be eligible under this project, you can get in touch with your local regional representative.

If you’re a government agency or other group administering Jobs for Nature funding and you’d like to discuss this project in more detail, please contact

  1. The landowner or Jobs for Nature funding recipient should contact their local QEII rep to initiate a conversation about putting a form of legal protection over the land.
  2. QEII rep assessment of site for suitability*
  3. If suitable: proposal developed outlining the biodiversity values for approval by the QEII board of directors
  4. If approved: Any necessary fencing is completed, then the site is surveyed, documents checked and signed, and the Restoration Agreement is formally registered on the land title

* Suitability of an area for protection by a Restoration Agreement is guided by the four National Priorities for protecting rare and threatened native biodiversity on private land (2007).