In 2017 the NSW Government passed new legislation providing for increased measures to offset biodiversity lost due to development. This legislation is managed by the Department of Environment, Energy and Science (DEES – previously the Office of Environment and Heritage, OEH) and the newly established Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT).
Under the legislation, proponents undertaking development involving an impact on biodiversity are required to secure biodiversity offset credits as a condition of their development going ahead. A proponent is not required to own the land that is the offset site but can fulfil their offset requirements by paying another landowner to protect and manage biodiversity on their land.
For example, a development such as a mine may require an area of native woodland to be cleared. To offset the clearing, another area of similar woodland can be protected and managed. This process is managed under the market based Biodiversity Offset Scheme and the protected land is referred to as a Biodiversity Stewardship Site.
The legislation provides opportunities for landowners to generate income and profit from the protection and management of biodiversity on their land by entering into a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement (BSA) and generating biodiversity offset credits.