Overview and history

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

In the past, the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Nature Conservation Trust have worked with landholders to conserve and manage the environment 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 (BCT) has been established to work in partnership with landholders across NSW. All 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 BCT 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, the BCT will secure offsets by purchasing biodiversity credits on the market or funding biodiversity conservation actions. The Trust will also work with landholders with suitable offset sites to establish agreements that generate the biodiversity credits required to meet the Trust’s offset obligations.

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 for eight weeks from 3 May 2016 to 28 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 NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust came into being on 25 August 2017 with the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.