Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Ku-ring-gai Council banks on biodiversity

Around 100 hectares of bush owned by northern Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Council is being restored through the establishment of a BioBanking agreement, which will provide ongoing funds to help Council manage the bushland forever. The BioBanking agreement was made possible with grant funding from the NSW Environmental Trust and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) through the ‘Linking Landscapes through Local Action’ project.

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.

After an ecological burn Ku-Ring-Gai

Andy Robinson and Dominic Edmonds after an ecological burn on one of Ku-ring-gai Council's BioBank sites.

Ku-ring-gai Council has long recognised the conservation significance of three of its bushland reserves between Turramurra and West Pymble Sheldon Forest, Rofe Park and Comenarra Creek Reserve. There have been a number of issues Council faces that threaten these areas including suburban encroachment, weed invasion, feral animals, rubbish dumping and erosion. These impacts degrade the habitat of threatened species known to live in the area, such as the Red-crowned Toadlet, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Powerful Owl, Eastern bent-wing bat, Eastern Freetail bat, Yellow-bellied Sheathtail-bat and Grey-headed Flying-fox.

Council will put funds received from the grant towards bushland recovery so residents can continue to enjoy the area’s 11 kilometres of walking tracks through six types of forest, including the critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest and endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest.

Securing the BioBanking agreement

Ku-ring-gai Council recognised that the long-term nature of BioBanking would secure funds to manage and preserve this important bush for future generations.

Council worked with OEH to establish a BioBanking agreement over the three reserves in 2014, ensuring the permanent protection of a bush corridor from the Pacific Highway at Turramurra to Lane Cove National Park.

The establishment of the BioBanking agreement created 605 “biodiversity credits”. Credits are created when a landowner enters into a biobanking agreement to maintain or improve their land’s biodiversity values by undertaking management actions.

The credits created were transferred by Council to OEH in exchange for the grant funding and will be ‘retired’, so they cannot be used to offset development elsewhere.

The BioBanking agreement establishes a fund of $1.6 million that provides an ongoing, annual income to Council to manage the bushland. The fund will give Council annual management payments of between $100,000 and $130,000 for the first 20 years of the agreement, and thereafter about $40,000 each year in perpetuity. Council will contribute an additional $469,000 over three years to help manage the sites.

Bushlands benefit from long-term funding

Ku-ring-gai Council’s Bushlands Operations Co-ordinator, Dominic Edmonds, and Technical Officer, Andy Robinson, have managed the bushland since 2007.

“Without the BioBanking agreement, the long-term management of the area is not secure,” Edmonds explained. “This is the overriding benefit of the biobank system:  to have secured funding in which to manage the bush … it’s like gold.”

“We knew what worked,” Robinson said, “so when it came to preparing the BioBanking submission to Council, we knew what needed to be done each year to manage the bushland and how much it would cost.”

OEH’s conservation assessment officer Kathryn Collins agrees. She said: “BioBanking is the next strongest form of conservation after national parks – it’s close to the best conservation management system because the funds are guaranteed in perpetuity.”

Edmonds added: “In my 20 years in the industry, no other form of funding has effectively managed the long-term nature of the Australian bush. Most funding is short: two to three years, but the bush doesn’t work like that.”

He explained that the Australian bush relies on fire to maintain health and diversity, germinate seeds and add nutrients to the soil. After three years of careful preparation, Council has been able to undertake highly controlled ecological burns in the reserves. These fires help control undesirable grasses and introduced species and have also lead to a twentyfold increase in flora and fauna diversity.

“We’ve discovered a mid-storey shrub, Pultenaea viscosa, which was locally uncommon for the area,” Robinson said.  The annual management payments from the BioBanking Trust Fund will ensure that follow up weed control after the fire can be continued for years. 

Community enjoys re-invigorated bushland

With the current funding from the BioBanking agreement, residents and visitors are going to benefit from cleaner waterways and a more diverse bushland. Invertebrates such as butterflies and jumping spiders are already returning to the area.  This is attracting frogs, Powerful Owls and small mammals such as pygmy possums, feathertail gliders and bandicoots.

Threatened plants are returning, such as Darwinia biflora (Twin Mountain Bells), Tetratheca glandulosa (Glandular Pink Bell), Melaleuca deanei (Dean’s Melaleuca), Epacris purpurascens var. purpurascens (Port Jackson Heath), Leptospermum deanei (Deane’s Tea Tree) and Acacia pubescens (Downy Wattle).

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