Overview and History

The tradition of private land conservation in NSW has a long and proud history with the voluntary and dedicated efforts of landholders, farmers, local community groups resulting in approximately three million hectares being under some form of conservation.

The Office of Environment and Heritage, historically the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservation Trust have a long history in working with landholders, farmers, organisations, local and State Governments to help landowners to protect the natural landscape with high biodiversity values through voluntary agreements, across NSW.

As part of the Government’s reforms to how plants and animals are protected in NSW, the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust has been established to work in partnership with landholders across NSW. All of the previous functions for private land conservation in the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Nature Conservation Trust have been transferred to the new not-for-profit body, the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

Additionally, the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust plays a key role in providing options to developers to meet an offset obligation. When developers choose to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet their offset obligations we will source suitable offset sites with landholders under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme to establish an agreement and generate biodiversity credits for purchase and retirement. We also have the option of funding a Biodiversity Action instead of purchasing and retiring existing or new biodiversity credits.

History of Biodiversity Reforms

In June 2014, the Minister for the Environment appointed an independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel to conduct a comprehensive review of the key pieces of legislation that oversee the protection of plants and animals across NSW. This included reviewing the Native Vegetation Act 2003, Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and those parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 that relate to native plants and animals and private land conservation.

The Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel presented its final report (PDF 1.4MB) to Government on 18 December 2014. The report included recommendations to improve the legislative and policy framework for biodiversity conservation and native vegetation management in New South Wales. In March 2015, the NSW Government committed to implementing all 43 recommendations in the report.

On 3 May 2016, the NSW Government released a draft package of land management and biodiversity conservation reforms in response to the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel's recommendations. The draft packages included the draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill and the draft Bill to amend the Local Land Services Act 2013, as well as other supporting products. The draft package was on public exhibition for eight weeks from 3 May 2016 to 28 June 2016 to allow stakeholders and the community to have their say. The submissions, and the summary of submissions report have been moved to an archive page on the land management and biodiversity conservation reforms webpage.

In November 2016, Parliament passed the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016.

The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust came into being on 25 August 2017 with the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.