The NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme was established under Part 6 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. The scheme is administered by the Environment, Energy and Science Group within the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. To find out more about the scheme visit the DPIE website.
Biodiversity Offsets Scheme Roles
The BCT has four roles under the scheme. To find out more about the BCT’s roles, visit our Biodiversity Offsets Program page.
Facilitating the supply of biodiversity offsets
Landholders wishing to generate and sell biodiversity credits can apply to the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust to enter a biodiversity stewardship agreement (BSA).
As of 30 June 2023, 270 landholders have entered BSAs, creating biodiversity stewardship sites across 59,186 hectares. This includes biobanking agreements established under former legislation and new BSAs.
As a result, many threatened ecosystems and habitats for NSW’s threatened native plant and animal species are being protected and managed by private landholders. This will maintain and improve the biodiversity conservation values at these sites, in the long term.
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust manages all active biodiversity stewardship agreements by reviewing annual reports, undertaking annual site inspections and, if management actions have been completed, making annual management payments to the landholder.
Managing Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund
A central component of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is the requirement that, upon the sale of credits, a landholder deposit a specified amount of money into the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund (also known as the total fund deposit). The BCT invests these funds and draws on the proceeds of investment of these funds, to make annual management payments to owners of active biodiversity stewardship sites. Sites go into active management when landholders have sold enough credits to meet their total fund deposit in full.
As of 30 June 2023, the BCT held total assets of $280 million in the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund. The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust has made $13.9 million in annual management payments to the holders of active biodiversity stewardship sites in the past 12 months.
The BCT is the appointed Fund Manager for the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund. The BCT manages the Fund in accordance with a comprehensive Funds and Investment Management Framework approved by the BCT Board. Among other things, the Framework requires the BCT to seek regular actuarial and investment management advice to support investment management decisions. The BCT’s investment adviser and manager is NSW Treasury Corporation, one of the biggest investment managers in Australia. You can find out more about our investment management performance by reading our annual reports.
Securing offsets on behalf of developers
Under the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme, developers can choose to meet an offset obligation by making a payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund. Once that payment is made, the legal obligation to secure the offsets transfers to the BCT. The BCT must secure offsets in line with legislated offset rules (set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017).
The BCT's report on acquitted obligations provides information on the obligations that have been fully acquitted to date.
The BCT aims to acquit all offset obligations transferred from developers to the BCT within five years and a median of offset obligations by dollar value within three years.
Biodiversity credit tender outcomes
This outcomes report outlines the results of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust’s statewide biodiversity credit tender held in September 2022. It provides insight to the number and type of credits and bids received and the successful bids the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust offered to purchase credits from. It also explains the reasons for these outcomes.
READ THE OUTCOMES REPORT [.pdf]
Securing offsets on behalf of government
The BCT can be funded by the Australian and/or NSW governments to secure offsets under place-based biodiversity offsets schemes. Since 2017-18, the NSW Government has commissioned the BCT to deliver offsets under the Growth Centres Biodiversity Offset Program, which operates in Western Sydney.
Targets under this program are expressed in hectares, and from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2022, the BCT protected approximately 213 hectares of Commonwealth-listed Cumberland Plain Woodland (against a long-term program target of 2,400 hectares) by purchasing credits from eleven biodiversity stewardship sites.
During this period, the BCT also protected approximately 42 hectares of Shale Sandstone Transition Forest (against a program target of 132 hectares) and a population of threatened Spiked Rice-flower (Pimelia spicata) from two biodiversity stewardship sites.