Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

BioBanking helps protect unique bushland in Hornsby

Hornsby Council’s Manager of Natural Resources, Diane Campbell, is pleased that BioBanking is helping conserve local bushland, including a particularly rare form of the critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest.

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.

Dog Pound Creek Blue Gums

Hornsby Shire Mayor Steve Russell with Council’s Manager of Natural Resources Di Campbell at Dog Pound Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of a new 41 hectare biobank site at Dog Pound Creek are seven hectares of a magnificent tall wet forest dominated by Sydney blue gums (Eucalyptus saligna), that is established on pockets of fertile soils formed from ancient volcanic deposits.

“This type of forest only exists in Sydney’s north,” says Di. “It is essential that we preserve and restore what’s left because unfortunately only 14 hectares remains. This biobank site protects half of that”.

The blue gum forest and other types of bushland on the site also provide habitat for threatened animals including the powerful owl, glossy black-cockatoo, grey-headed flying-fox and eastern bent-wing bat. Four threatened plant species have also been found, including Galium australe, an endangered herb, which was presumed extinct but has recently been rediscovered in the area.

Under the ‘Linking Landscapes through Local Action’ project a BioBanking agreement has been established for the site, funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage and an additional $35,000 from Council. The money has been invested into the BioBanking Trust Fund, which will provide a perpetual annual income to allow Council to manage weeds and other threats to the site’s biodiversity.

Council’s previous success with BioBanking

Di said Hornsby Council gained earlier experience in BioBanking by establishing a nine hectare biobank site in 2014 over the Upper Pyes Creek and New Farm Road reserves, which contains another area of Blue Gum High Forest. The biodiversity credits created by this agreement were sold by council for $2.5 million to offset vegetation being cleared for the North West Rail Link and the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track rail projects.

The increasing use of the BioBanking Scheme by developers and infrastructure providers to offset impacts is seen by council as an opportunity to obtain long term funding to manage bushland that is in addition to their own resources.

“Developments, especially infrastructure, are likely to happen in any event and offsets will be needed to balance them,” says Di. “We realised that our bushland reserves have the types of credits that will be needed for such offsets.”

“By setting up biobank sites on council reserves and selling biodiversity credits, BioBanking can provide the capital needed to maintain our valuable natural assets for the community. It allows Council to fund the upkeep of the reserves in perpetuity,” Di says.

 The enduring nature of BioBanking agreements and certainty of payments from the trust fund means the council doesn’t have to continually apply for grants, which usually last for only a short term.

“BioBanking allows us to plan for and address the management issues to progressively improve the health of the bush and habitat for wildlife over the long term. This is a huge advantage!” says Di.

The future looks bright for BioBanking

Di says Hornsby’s councillors gave their strong support following a briefing about the benefits of BioBanking. She plans to hold a community open day to explain its advantages to residents and other users of the reserve.

Hornsby Shire Mayor Steve Russell agrees, acknowledging that BioBanking benefits the natural environment, the local residents and the council.

“We know that Hornsby residents and visitors highly value our bushland and considerable effort has been made over decades by council and about 700 Bushcare volunteers. But with two thirds of the Hornsby Shire being covered by bushland and Council managing several thousand hectares of it within nearly 300 bushland reserves, it’s an enormous and expensive task to maintain them in the face of increasing threats such as environmental weeds.

“BioBanking gives a huge boost to limited Council resources for bushland care to go a lot further,” he adds.

“There are more sites under consideration: a council doing a land release and a developer working on an infrastructure project have shown interest in buying further credits from Hornsby Shire.”

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