Unlocking the opportunity for every

Australian farm to protect our ecosystems.

Why Protected Habitat Mutual?

Farmers are able to be paid for the environmental stewardship that they perform. However, these markets are immature, complex and costly to the individual farmer. The solution is to create a mutual that works in the best interest of its farmer-owners.

A mutual can provide each member with specialist services, expert knowledge and peer support as they enter into term agreements with government and private investors for the variety of stewardship activities. Most importantly, a mutual can ensure that more of the rewards for environmental stewardship remain with farmers – because it is working for its farmer-owners not for private capital.

Notably payments to farmers can come from a variety of sources and will be applicable on a farm-by-farm basis. One size doesn’t fit all.

A Protected Habitat mutual will enable farmers to demonstrate and be rewarded for their land stewardship. 

Learn Via This Recorded Presentation 

This recording is just over 20 minutes long.  It is a session with slides that explain the Protected Habitat Farmers Mutual, followed by a few questions by Charlie Arnott.


The Protected Habitat Farmers Mutual was an idea conceived by Ethical Fields in 2020 with the aim of enabling farmers to better access environmental markets. From August to October 2020, Ethical Fields delivered collaborative workshops to explore the Protected Habitat Farmer Mutual with the support of the Federal government funding under the Co-operative Farming program. Through this program, a group of farmers worked with conservation, finance and government organisations to explore and scope the shape of the farmer mutual.  Below are 6 of these workshop sessions covering the introduction, measurement, credibility and monetisation topics.

Would you like to co-create this mutual?

The process to create the farmer mutual is designed to be farmer led from inception. Building on the scoping workshops, we aim to gather an initial cohort of 50 farmers to lead the next foundational steps. 
You can participate in the development of the mutual in the following ways:
  • “Founding farmers” – register your interest in becoming a founding farmer by completing the form below. These farmers will be invited to participate in the co-creation workshops to be undertaken in 2021. Subject to the mutual then being formed, these farmers are likely to become the founding member-owners of the mutual. 
  • “Steering group” – if you want to be be more actively involved in the formation of the mutual, you can join the steering group. This group will assist in developing the formation proposals to be considered by the founding farmers. Subject to the mutual being formed, the steering group can then become a complimentary channel for communications between the board, management and members. All founding farmers can join the steering group at their option.
  • “Reference group” – for those organisations that are not directly involved in farming, but that are interested in supporting the creation of the mutual, you can join the reference group. This is the expert group that provides feedback and advice to the mutual and includes government, conservation and finance organisations, farming associations, and various other bodies. If you are interested in joining this group, please contact [email protected].



The start-up costs of establishing the mutual are to be funded through a combination of farmer contributions amplified by investment from government, impact and institutional investors, aligned corporates, and from Ethical Fields. In the first phase, funding will be applied to scoping the business model and the mutual principles. This is the important pre-work that will form the foundation for establishing the mutual in phase 2. 


To be clear, Ethical Fields’ role is to help catalyse the creation of the farmer mutual. Our expertise in mutual structures and environmental markets coupled with our relationships with farmer, conservation and government organisations makes us ideally placed to assist farmers through this process – where the end goal is the formation of an independent farmer owned mutual.  It is envisaged the mutual will recruit and employ it’s own management team once it moves into the operating phase.

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