Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

There's now plenty in reserve to look after Puckeys Estate

Moves to regenerate historic Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve bushland has been given a big push forward thanks to a BioBanking agreement between Wollongong Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Loved by residents and visitors, the 29 hectare estate is just one kilometre from Wollongong city centre and is a popular destination for walkers, joggers and birdwatchers.

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.

volunteers at work

Left to right: Bushcare volunteers supervisor John Aleuras, WCC Natural Areas Officer Paul Hellier and Bushcare volunteer John Wilson at Puckeys Estate.

Habitat and heritage

The council-owned reserve is one of the Illawarra coastline’s few remaining rare sand dune formations with a lagoon between two sand dunes.

Puckeys Estate is home to four endangered coastal vegetation types that support threatened fauna including the grey-headed flying-fox, gang-gang cockatoo, barking owl and sooty oystercatcher.

The reserve is also an important part of Wollongong’s heritage. The local Aboriginal community have a strong cultural and historic connection to the locality. From around 1905, the site was used by local chemist Courtney Puckey, who the reserve was named after. Around 1905 Puckey relocated his experimental salt works from nearby North Wollongong Beach to the southern end of the reserve, where he established his residence, “Seafield House”. The heritage-listed remains of the saltworks and the house are within the reserve .

Long-term viability

Wollongong Council’s Renee Campbell, Manager Environment Strategy and Planning, is enthusiastic that the total funding of nearly $1M secured under the BioBanking Scheme will ensure the long-term viability of this unique community resource.

“The funding in perpetuity lets us continue and improve on the excellent work of volunteers and council-funded contractors that’s been going on for the past twenty years. Council will now be able to continue to manage the threats to the bushland and habitat so that its important ecological values are conserved.”

Bush flourishes with long-term funding

Council officers are thrilled to see that all their hard work is paying off. “The endangered vegetation communities in Puckeys Estate are gradually recovering,” says Paul Hellier, Natural Areas Officer with Wollongong Council.

“One of the biggest threats was asparagus fern, which carpeted the area,” he says. Another invasive weed, lantana, has also been reduced in area and native trees and shrubs have been planted or have grown back naturally.

“As the native vegetation returns, so too does the native fauna,” Paul says. “Look after the flora and the animals will come back.”

Community support

Council staff are not the only ones to notice the changes to the vegetation. “The community are supportive of the works that we are doing because they can see the difference as they cycle or walk through the estate,” Paul says.

“They say it’s good to see the weeds being replaced by native species. They will sometimes stop and tell us what a great job we are doing.”

In addition to contractors, Puckeys Estate also benefits from the efforts of Bushcare volunteers, University of Wollongong students, and from the Federal Government’s Green Army program.

“There is always someone in the reserve birdwatching, bushwalking, cycling, jogging or even walking with a pram,” says Paul. “Puckeys Estate is a highly used and much-loved community resource.”

How BioBanking will help preserve Puckeys Estate

Wollongong Council signed the BioBanking agreement for Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve in April 2015. The credits generated by the site were valued at $967,000. Of this amount, $871,000 has been put into the BioBanking Trust Fund by OEH through its Linking Landscapes through Local Action Project, and Council has contributed $96,000.

All of the BioBanking credits generated through this project have been transferred to OEH and will be retired so they can never be sold.

Indexed payments

The Trust Fund will provide the council with indexed annual management payments in perpetuity of approximately:

$50,000 a year for years 1–10

$35,000 a year for years 11–20

$36,500 a year for years 21 onwards.

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.

For more information, see BioBanking.

Page last updated: 28 August 2017