Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Western Sydney Parklands places its trust in BioBanking

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 commenced on 25 August 2017 visit Biodiversity Offset Scheme.

The information on this page only remains relevant for savings and transitional arrangements under former legislation and policy. Visit Biodiversity Offset Scheme Transitional Arrangements for more information.

Scheme protects rare bushland in two areas while providing funding for biodiversity across the parklands

The NSW BioBanking Scheme has helped preserve the Australian bush as an intrinsic element in urban western Sydney according to David Kirkland, Principal Program Environment Officer for the Western Sydney Parklands Trust (the Trust).

"The vegetation in the areas we're protecting through BioBanking is typical Australian bush and represents an important connection to the days before Sydney began to be developed," says David. "In the Sydney Basin the woodland has been heavily cleared and is now endangered, so it's crucial we preserve what we can."

The Trust operates two biobank sites: a 17.3-hectare vegetation corridor at Chandos West that connects bushland habitats throughout the parklands, and a 23.2-hectare core habitat at Cecil Park that expands a high-value conservation site.

Both biobank sites contain the critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and the endangered River-flat Eucalypt Forest ecological communities.

"BioBanking provides a valuable revenue stream that helps us protect and preserve endangered ecological communities in two locations, as well as contribute to the biodiversity of the broader parklands area," says Suellen Fitzgerald, Director of the Trust.

The Western Sydney Parklands - administered by the Trust - are being established as one of the world's largest urban parklands, spanning more than 5,280 hectares over 27 kilometres from Quakers Hill in Sydney's north to Leppington in the south. A self-funded NSW Government agency, the Trust has to find strategic ways of raising revenue to manage and maintain the parklands. Biobanking fits the bill.

The BioBanking Scheme has enabled the Trust to sell 115 of 180 biodiversity credits for habitat refuge areas that act as stepping stones between larger core patches of bush. A further 243 biodiversity credits were sold for the core habitat, which provided funding for biodiversity management activities at the biobank sites.

The Trust sold the credits for the Cecil Park habitat to the Transport Construction Authority to meet development approvals for the South West Rail Link, raising about $3.3 million. For the Chandos West habitat, the Trust has primarily sold credits to residential developers and, to date, has raised about $1.7 million.

From this revenue, the Western Sydney Parklands Trust has paid a lump sum into the BioBanking Trust Fund to meet its biobanking agreement obligations. The agreement sets out how much and when the BioBanking Trust Fund pays the Western Sydney Parklands to manage the biobank sites. The Trust is investing the rest of the funding into enhancing the parkland's ecosystems by improving connectivity and expanding the vegetation corridor.

The biobanking agreement is flexible enough to enable the Western Sydney Parklands Trust to retain unused management funds to cover emergencies such as reviving areas of bushland on biobank sites that have been attacked by insect plagues or invasive weeds.

Under the biobanking agreement, intrusive developments such as electricity easements or mountain bike tracks are not allowed in the designated areas, while the Trust must undertake management activities including fencing, signage, eradicating weeds, fire management and bush regeneration.

David Kirkland is a strong advocate of public landowners participating in the BioBanking Scheme. "It's a very simple way of investing in rare bushland and recognising its ecological and financial value. If you apply sound management principles and robust pricing, you can retain sufficient funding to protect rare ecological communities from unforeseen disturbances, whatever their cause," he says.

How the NSW BioBanking Scheme works

When a landowner enters into a biobanking agreement for part of their land, the land becomes a biobank site. The biobanking agreement is permanently attached to the land title and includes provisions that require current and future landowners to carry out management actions to improve the condition of the native vegetation and habitats on the site.

Entering into a biobanking agreement creates biodiversity credits, which can be sold by the landowner. An individual or corporation may purchase credits to offset adverse impacts on biodiversity caused by a development. Governments and philanthropic organisations may also purchase credits for conservation purposes. When a landowner sells their credits, a specified minimum amount from the sale proceeds (an amount known as the Total Fund Deposit) is paid into the BioBanking Trust Fund.

Annual payments to fund the management of the biobank site are then made to the landowner from the Trust Fund in perpetuity. Once the Total Fund Deposit has been paid the proceeds of all subsequent credit sales are returned to the landowner as profit. Any profit payments may be used by the landowner to recover the costs of setting up the biobanking agreement and any lost opportunity costs associated  from entering into the agreement.

Visit Biobanking for more information.

Page last updated: 28 August 2017