I need more Information – Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I already started the application for a BioBanking agreement?
If you have already submitted an application for a BioBanking agreement, it is proposed there will be a 12 month period for the application to be considered and signed by the Minister. This recognises that a significant amount of money can be invested in preparing an application and associated assessments. Once the BioBanking agreement is created it will be equivalent to a biodiversity stewardship agreement and managed in the same way under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
If you have not submitted a full application at the time the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 commences, you will need to apply for a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement under the new legislation.
Why is it important to protect biodiversity on private land?
The NSW government recognises that engaging private landowners in conservation is an important opportunity. Many ecological communities and threatened species are found only on privately owned and managed land. More than 70 per cent of the state is under private ownership or Crown leasehold. Landholders who protect the plants and animals on their land play a key role in keeping biodiversity across NSW healthy and landholders should be supported in a number of ways for playing this important role.
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust will receive an unprecedented amount of $240 million over five years to support conservation on private land and $70 million in each following year, subject to performance reviews. This investment will be delivered by the BCT and guided by the Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy and the BCT’s Business Plan. The strategy will be an important tool in conserving biodiversity at bioregional and state scales, maintaining the diversity and quality of ecosystems and enhancing their capacity to adapt to change.
Will the $240 million for private land conservation be used to offset the biodiversity impacts of development?
No, the $240 million for private land conservation will primarily be used to help deliver the private land conservation program and to support the landholders in financial and non-financial ways when they become a part of the program. The $240 million is in addition to payments that may be made by developers who choose to meet their offset obligations by paying into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.
How can the community know more about the work and the priorities of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust?
The Trust is required under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to publish a business plan every four years, and annual reports on its activities. The Board of the Trust will prepare its first Business Plan by early 2018.
The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 sets out what information the Trust must include in its business plan and annual reporting, such as goals, plans for achieving those goals, plans for investing money and managing returns, and data management. Where possible, the Trust’s goals and plans are to give effect to the Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy.
In addition to the standard requirements of public finance legislation, the Regulation proposes that the Trust’s annual reports must outline:
- progress in the past financial year against goals identified in the Trust’s business plan
- actions undertaken in the past financial year to deliver plans in the Trust’s business plan.
What returns can a landholder expect if they establish a biodiversity stewardship agreement?
Landholders will be able to negotiate the sale price of their biodiversity credits with the credit buyer. A portion of the sale price must be paid into the Stewardship Payments Fund to cover the costs of managing the site in-perpetuity. The remaining income from the credit sale is kept by the landholder, as profit.
How much will it cost to enter a biodiversity stewardship agreement?
There will be upfront costs to establish a biodiversity stewardship agreement. Landholders will need to engage an accredited assessor to assess the biodiversity value of the site by applying the biodiversity assessment method. The cost of the assessment will depend on the site, for example, its size, vegetation and location.
The landholder can recover these costs through the profit they receive from the sale of their credits.
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust is currently being established and will consider options to assist landholders with low cost finance to pay for the up-front costs of establishing an agreement, such as having their site assessed by an accredited assessor. These costs can subsequently be recouped through the sale of their biodiversity credits.
How will land management codes and allowable activities apply to my land under a private land conservation agreement?
Land secured under a private land conservation agreement must be managed for conservation. Land management codes made under the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 cannot be used on land subject to a private land conservation agreement. Some limited allowable activities are permitted, such as clearing for environmental protection works and for permanent boundary fences. Other restrictions on development and activities on the site may also be included in the agreement itself.
How will mining proposals affect my private land conservation agreement?
Private land conservation agreements do not prevent mining activity or exploration on land. The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 includes consultation requirements prior to entering into a private land conservation agreement, to assess certain potential land use conflicts. It is necessary to obtain the consent of the holders of certain mining and petroleum interests before a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement can be entered into. However, it is possible that circumstances may arise when an agreement needs to be varied or terminated because mining is proposed for a site.
The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 includes new provisions to allow the Minister to require or request the reimbursement of establishment costs and in the case of Conservation Agreements other amounts if a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement or a Conservation Agreement is terminated because a mining or petroleum authority is subsequently granted on the site. These other amounts recoverable for Conservation Agreements may include costs incurred by the landowner or by government if the site received investment under the government’s private land conservation funding program.
How will my personal information be used on the register of private land conservation agreements?
The register of private land conservation agreements will include information that the community needs to understand about where and how investment in biodiversity conservation is occurring and to demonstrate that the land is being managed to protect biodiversity. The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation sets out how this information should include details of the owners, the location of the site, and any agreements and management plans made for the site. It will be like the current register of Biobanking sites.