Overview and history

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

As part of the government’s biodiversity conservation reforms, the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) has been established to encourage and support landholders across NSW to participate in private land conservation. The administration of all previous private land conservation agreements, including those signed under the former Office of Environment and Heritage and the Nature Conservation Trust, has been transferred to the BCT.

Additionally, the BCT plays three roles in the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme administered by the Office of Environment and Heritage:

  • Landholders that wish to generate and sell biodiversity credits can apply to enter a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement with the BCT. The BCT manages and ensures compliance with the agreements.
  • The BCT manages the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund to make annual biodiversity stewardship payments to BSA holders.
  • Developers can choose to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet their offset obligations. If they do so, the BCT will secure biodiversity credits or fund biodiversity conservation actions.

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 2003Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995Nature 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 the NSW Government in December 2014. The report included recommendations to improve the legislative and policy framework for biodiversity conservation and native vegetation management in NSW.

In 2015, the government committed to implementing all 43 recommendations in the report.

In May 2016, the NSW Government released a draft package of land management and biodiversity conservation reforms in response to the review recommendations. The draft package included a draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill and a draft Bill to amend the Local Land Services Act 2013, as well as other supporting products. The draft package was on public exhibition from May to June 2016 to allow stakeholders and the community to have their say.

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

The Acts and supporting regulations were commenced on 25 August 2017.

The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust commenced operating on 25 August 2017.