Biodiversity Offsets Program

The NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) is administered by the Environment, Energy and Science Group within the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE-EES). 

DPIE roles
DPIE-EES is responsible for the following aspects of the BOS:

  • the policy, legislative and regulatory framework for the BOS, as set out in Part 6 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (the Act) and Part 6 of the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017
  • the Biodiversity Assessment Method or BAM (Division 2 of Part 6 of the Act)
  • scheme integrity issues, including the accredited assessor scheme (Division 2 of Part 6 of the Act)
  • the transfer and retirement of biodiversity credits, including issuing statements of reasonable credit equivalence (Divisions 4 and 5 of Part 6 of the Act) 
  • the Biodiversity Offsets and Agreements Management System (BOAMS)
  • the Biodiversity Offsets Payments Calculator (Division 6 or Part 6 of the Act)
  • scheme cost recovery (Division 8 of Part 6 of the Act)
  • public registers (Division 2 of Part 9 of the Act).

Scheme participants or stakeholders with questions about these aspects of the scheme should contact DPIE-EES

BCT roles

The BCT has four roles under the scheme:

  1. The BCT facilitates the supply of biodiversity credits. Landholders wishing to generate and sell biodiversity credits can apply to the BCT to enter a biodiversity stewardship agreements (BSA). Once signed, the BCT manages the agreement by making annual biodiversity stewardship payments to the landholder for carrying out conservation management actions on the site. The BCT ensures compliance through review of annual reports and site inspections.
  2. The BCT is the Fund Manager for the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund. When biodiversity credits are sold, the landholder must deposit a specified amount of money into the fund. The BCT invests these funds with NSW Treasury Corporation and uses the funds and proceeds from investment to make the annual biodiversity stewardship payments to the BSA holder. 
  3. The BCT’s Biodiversity Offsets Program is responsible for securing biodiversity offsets on behalf of development proponents who opt to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet NSW state and Commonwealth offset obligations of their development approval. The BCT acts as a market intermediary. Developers with an offset obligation can make a payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund (BCF) at a price set by the Biodiversity Offsets Payment Calculator. If developers choose to pay into the BCF, the obligation to procure the biodiversity credits transfers to the BCT. This enables developers to proceed with the development while allowing the BCT to bundle credit obligations and secure strategic offset outcomes. Visit the outcomes page to learn more about the outcomes of the Biodiversity Offsets Program. Click here for information on acquitted obligations.
  4. The BCT is funded by government to procure offsets under various place-specific biodiversity offsets schemes, such as the Growth Centres Biodiversity Offset Program which operates in Western Sydney. 
BOS transactions diagram

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme transactions diagram

 

What are biodiversity credits and how do they work?

Biodiversity credits are generated when a landowner commits to protect and enhance the biodiversity values on their land in perpetuity through a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement. 

Biodiversity credits represent the expected improvement in biodiversity that will result from the protection and management of the site.

There are two basic types of credits: ecosystem credits and species credits.

Biodiversity credits may be sold to developers or the BCT to offset the impacts of development occurring elsewhere. The credits may also be sold to third parties seeking to invest in conservation outcomes, including individuals, philanthropic organisations or government. The sale of biodiversity credits generates ongoing, permanent funding for the management of the site at which they were generated. The sale of credits may also return a profit for the landowner.

 

What is a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement?

A Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement (BSA) is a voluntary agreement between the BCT and a landholder to permanently protect and manage an area of land. It enables biodiversity credits to be generated, which may be sold to a developer, the BCT or other interested parties.

Once the credits are sold, BSA holders receive annual, in-perpetuity biodiversity stewardship payments to manage the land and biodiversity on the offset site. They may also make a profit from the sale of credits.

Landholders can apply to the BCT at any time to enter a BSA.

Learn more about applying for a BSA.  

 

How does the BCT secure biodiversity offsets? 

The BCT uses four delivery mechanisms to secure biodiversity offsets:

  1. Biodiversity credit fixed price offers: The BCT uses two biodiversity credit fixed price offers; open and targeted. The biodiversity credit open fixed price offer is available to existing and prospective credit owners on a continuing basis for credits on the BCT’s Wanted Credit List and operates on a ‘first in’ basis. The biodiversity credit targeted fixed price offer is where the BCT offers to purchase credits directly from credit owners or landholders. It is used in limited circumstances and specific regions to obtain highly sought-after credits.
  2. Biodiversity credit tenders: The BCT may call for expressions of interest or bids from credit sellers to participate in a biodiversity credit tender. Open tenders are used when there is a medium to high volume of high demand credits available, or potentially available. Targeted tenders are used when one landowner can satisfy all or a proportion of credits wanted.
  3. Revolving fund: The BCT may use the revolving fund to purchase properties for sale that have the potential to generate biodiversity credits wanted. Properties will be sold with a pre-commitment to enter a funded BSA, or with a BSA in place.
  4. Biodiversity conservation actions: Under the Biodiversity Offset Scheme rules, the BCT may sometimes be required to fund biodiversity conservation actions, instead of procuring site-based offsets. The BCT may identify and fund high-priority investment options or may invite tenders to supply conservation projects.

Learn more about how the BCT has secured Biodiversity Credits from landholders.

 

Financial assistance to establish a BSA

Landholders proposing to sell credits to the BCT may be eligible for funding assistance to set up a BSA. The BCT recognises that many landholders face barriers to participating in the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme due to the high upfront costs of establishing a BSA. The assistance is intended to facilitate the supply of credits by helping landholders to undertake these assessments. 

Financial assistance may include payments to the landholder, or in some cases, expenses for assessments undertaken by the BCT, that will be recovered by the BCT through the purchase of credits. Funding for assistance is limited and will be provided by the BCT on a restricted, case by case basis.

The participants' guide to financial assistance to establish a BSA provides further information on the availability of this assistance.

 

What is the Growth Centres Biodiversity Offset Scheme? 

The Growth Centres Biodiversity Offset Scheme aims to protect some of the best remaining bushland in Western Sydney for current and future generations.

The Scheme is achieving this by buying land for new reserves and funding BSAs with landowners to permanently conserve their land. This land is being protected by the NSW Government to offset the impacts on biodiversity that will be caused by the development of the North West and South West Growth Centres.

Since its introduction in 2008, the Growth Centres Biodiversity Offset Scheme has permanently protected 567 hectares of land at 13 locations in Western Sydney.

These sites protect threatened plant communities, including critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and provide valuable habitat for threatened animal species.

Learn more

 

What is the Biodiversity Conservation Fund?

The Biodiversity Conservation Trust manages the Biodiversity Conservation Fund. Developers or other participants can make a payment into the Fund to fulfil their biodiversity credit obligation. The BCT then takes on the obligation to purchase or find these biodiversity credits.

As payments are made into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund, the BCT will list the credits sought on the Wanted Credits List.

Any landholders who have credits that match these obligations or equivalent like-for-like credit alternatives are encouraged to contact the BCT on [email protected] or by calling 1300 992 688.

More information about this program


Factsheets