Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program

The Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program is a part of the NSW Government's $40 million Green Corridors program, a Government priority action identified in NSW 2021: A plan to make NSW number one (PDF 843KB). The project was funded by the NSW Environmental Trust over a four year period from 2011-12 to 2014-15.

The grant program allocated $8.6 million to managing public land in the Sydney Basin for conservation purposes. The grant funding was available for establishing and funding BioBanking agreements on public land.

Biobanking agreements are a type of permanent conservation covenant in which funds required for management are invested in an endowment fund (the BioBanking Trust Fund). The fund provides an ongoing annual management payment to the land owner, allowing the bushland to be managed in perpetuity.

Process for selecting biobank sites

Two rounds of requests for expressions of interest (EOI) for the Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program were conducted in August and November 2012.

A total of 64 EOIs were received from public land managers interested in establishing biobank sites. EOIs were short-listed based on the connectivity and biodiversity values of the land, the conservation security of the land and the cost-effectiveness of the investment. Short-listed EOI applicants were invited to submit more detailed grant applications for the nominated sites for assessment.

The Information for Applicants (PDF 490KB) provides background on the request for EOIs under the grant program.

What the program achieved

Seven biobank sites were established through the Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program:

The biobanking agreements for these sites provide ongoing management funding for 345 hectares of native bushland and wetlands, including 119 hectares of threatened ecological communities, located within existing or potentially new biodiversity corridors.

Establishing a biobank site provides public land owners with a known and enduring source of funding through annual management payments. For the seven biobank sites established through the grant program, $9.2 million has been invested in the BioBanking Trust Fund, comprising of $8.5 million of grant funding and $700,000 as a contribution by the applicant councils.

The BioBanking Trust Fund will provide annual management payments to the seven councils amounting to $530,000 in the first ten years following establishment of the biobank site. The funding is indexed and continues in perpetuity at a level sufficient to manage the biobank sites in accordance with the agreements.

Program report

A report on the Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program (PDF 3.5MB) provides further information on the biobank sites established through the program.

Council experience with biobanking

The following case studies provide insights into the motivations and experiences of some of the councils that established a biobank site through the program:

More information for land owners who are interested in establishing a biobank site.

Profiles of biobank sites established by the program

Garrard Reserve biobank site

Garrard Reserve BioBank site (centre and upper left of photo). Photo courtesy of Shoalhaven City Council

Garrard Reserve biobank site (centre and upper left of photo). Photo courtesy of Shoalhaven City Council

Garrard Reserve biobank site at Narrawallee (Shoalhaven LGA) is an ecologically rich site that is part of a regional habitat corridor linking Narrawallee Nature Reserve in the north and Meroo National Park in the south.

The 68-hectare biobank site was established on the reserve in May 2013. A grant of $766,835 (excl. GST) from the program was deposited into the BioBanking Trust Fund to ensure that the site's important values are maintained into the future. The Trust Fund provides Shoalhaven Council with an initial management payment in the order of $126,000 and then management payments of approximately $24,000 (excl. GST and indexed ) per annum in perpetuity. All biodiversity credits created at the BioBank site were transferred by Shoalhaven Council to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in return for the grant funding.

Establishment of the biobank site was announced in July 2013 (PDF 24KB) by the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Robyn Parker MP.

For more information on Shoalhaven City Council's experience establishing the biobank site see the Garrad Reserve case study.

Fencott Drive Wetland Reserve biobank site

Fencott Drive Wetland Reserve Jewells BioBank site (Lake Macquarie LGA). Photo: OEH

Fencott Drive Wetland Reserve Jewells biobank site (Lake Macquarie LGA). Photo: OEH

Fencott Drive Wetland Reserve biobank site at Jewells (Lake Macquarie LGA) covers part of an important wetland ecosystem which, along with adjoining land, forms a corridor of high conservation value within the proposed Lake Macquarie Coastal Wetlands Park. These natural areas provide habitat connectivity for many native animals, including listed threatened and migratory species.

The 42-hectare site was established in May 2013 on an area exposed to extensive weed infestation. The high cost of managing these threats required a significant investment into the BioBanking Trust Fund to manage aquatic weeds and to ensure that the site returns to good condition over time. The total fund deposit amounted to $2,099,073 (excl. GST) which was paid for by a grant of $2,074,073 from the program and by a contribution from Council of $25,000. To manage the site, the Trust Fund will provide Lake Macquarie Council with annual payments of around $120,000 (excl. GST and indexed)) for the first ten years and continuing in perpetuity at approximately $50,000 per annum. All biodiversity credits created at the biobank site were transferred by Council to OEH in return for the grant funding.

Establishment of the biobank site was announced in December 2013 (PDF 93KB) by the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Robyn Parker MP.

Sheldon Forest, Rofe Park and Comenarra Creek Reserve biobank site

Sheldon Forest, Rofe Park and Comenarra Creek Reserve BioBank site (Ku-ring-gai LGA). Photo: OEH

Sheldon Forest, Rofe Park and Comenarra Creek Reserve biobank site (Ku-ring-gai LGA). Photo: OEH

Sheldon Forest, Rofe Park and Comenarra Creek Reserve biobank site (Ku-ring-gai LGA) is part of a three-kilometre long urban bushland corridor that stretches from the Pacific Highway in Pymble to Lane Cove National Park in South Turramurra. The 99-hectare biobank site was established in May 2014 and protects critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest, endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest, and numerous threatened flora and fauna species.

A grant of $1,601,382 (excl. GST) from the program has been deposited into the BioBanking Trust Fund for the site to ensure that its important values are maintained into the future. Ku-ring-gai Council has committed to contribute an additional $469,000 (excl. GST) over three years to the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will provide Council with management payments of approximately $100,000 (excl. GST) per annum for the first 20 years of the agreement, and then management payments of approximately $39,400 (excl. GST and indexed) per annum in perpetuity. All biodiversity credits created at the biobank site will be transferred by Council to OEH in return for the grant funding.

For more information on Ku-ring-gai Council's experience establishing the biobank site see the Sheldon Forest, Rofe Park and Comenarra Creek Reserve case study.

Rumbalara Reserve biobank site

Rumbalara Reserve BioBank site (Photo courtesy of Gosford City Council)

Rumbalara Reserve biobank site (Photo courtesy of Gosford City Council)

Rumbalara Reserve biobank site (Gosford LGA) forms part of a coastal wildlife corridor which traverses the sandstone ridges adjacent to Brisbane Waters. The 59-hectare biobank site protects a diverse range of bushland communities ranging from ridge-top forests to sheltered gully rainforests, including 10 hectares of the endangered Lowland Rainforest.

The majority of the biobank site comprises of mature forests in good condition with high levels of resilience. However there are also significant areas of lantana that occur throughout the site, primarily in the wet forest and rainforest, which affect the biodiversity values and health of the bushland. Under the biobanking agreement, Council has committed to undertake a set of management actions which, over time, will improve the health of this bushland.

A BioBanking Trust Fund of $979,414 (excl. GST) has been established to ensure that this important part of the bushland corridor is maintained into the future. This amount includes a grant of $929,414 from OEH through the Linking Landscapes project while Gosford City Council has contributed an additional $50,000. The Trust Fund will provide Council with annual management payments of around $95,300 for the first ten years, $34,300 per annum until year 20 and then management payments of approximately $21,500 per annum (excl. GST and indexed) in perpetuity. All of the biodiversity credits created by the biobanking agreement have been transferred by Council to OEH and will be retired.

Puckeys Estate biobank site

Puckeys Estate BioBank site (Photo: OEH)

Puckeys Estate biobank site (Photo: OEH)

Puckeys Estate biobank site (Wollongong LGA) is an important stepping stone in a discontinuous north-south coastal habitat corridor which supports a number of threatened fauna species. The 29-hectare biobank site contains a diversity of bushland communities, four of which are endangered. The site is also recognised for its considerable Aboriginal and European heritage value.

The health of the bushland is currently threatened by the invasion of weeds such as Lantana and Bitou bush. Human disturbance is also an issue as it is bordered by a public beach and has high visitor numbers. Under the biobanking agreement, Council has committed to a number of management activities including maintaining tracks, controlling the coastal weeds and revegetating areas where native plants have not re-established.

A BioBanking Trust Fund of $967,000 (excl. GST) has been established that will provide ongoing, annual payments to Wollongong City Council to manage the bushland at the site. This amount includes a grant of $870,912 from OEH through the Linking Landscapes project while Council has contributed the remaining $96,000. The payments from the Trust Fund will provide Council with approximately $50,400 for the first ten years, $32,000 per annum until year 20 and continuing in perpetuity at approximately $20,600 (excl. GST and indexed) per annum.

For more information on Wollongong City Council's experience establishing the biobank site see the Puckeys Estate case study.

Dog Pound Creek biobank site

Dog Pound Creek BioBank site (Photo: OEH)

Dog Pound Creek biobank site (Photo: OEH)

The Dog Pound Creek biobank site (Hornsby LGA) was established in April 2015 to enhance the management of a significant stand of critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest, as well as habitat for a range of threatened flora and fauna species. The 41-hectare biobank site is part of a network of green corridors that connect Berowra Valley National Park to Lane Cove National Park via a series of stepping stone linkages.

Hornsby Shire Council has undertaken considerable bush regeneration work in various parts of the site over the past decade and there are five active community Bushcare groups who regularly assist Council in undertaking this work. Even with this effort there are threats, including weed invasion and stormwater pollution, that are continuous and beyond Council's resources to manage.

A BioBanking Trust Fund of $1,275,273 (excl. GST) has been established that will provide ongoing, annual payments to Hornsby Shire Council to manage the bushland at the site. This amount includes a grant of $1,240,273 from OEH through the Linking Landscapes project while Council has contributed the remaining $35,000. The Trust fund provides Council with management payments of approximately $79,400 for the first 10 years $37,700 per annum until year 20 and then payments of approximately $23,000 (excl. GST and indexed) per annum in perpetuity.

For more information on Hornsby Shire Council's experience establishing the biobank site see the Dog Pound Creek case study.

Lansdowne Reserve biobank site

Lansdowne Reserve BioBank site (Photo OEH)

Lansdowne Reserve biobank site (Photo OEH)

The Lansdowne Reserve biobank site (Bankstown LGA) was established in June 2015 in the northern section of Lansdowne reserve. The 83-hectare reserve is identified in both the Cumberland Plain Recovery Plan and the Cumberland Subregion BIO Map (PDF 4.3MB) as a priority area for biodiversity management. The reserve contains one of the largest remaining stands of critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and the 10.6 hectare biobank site provides management funding for a part of this remnant.

Practically all of the native vegetation on the site has regrown since the site was cleared prior to the 1940's. The regrowth vegetation has high levels of weed invasion and is also threatened by rubbish dumping, trail bike riding and an extensive network of informal walking tracks.

A BioBanking Trust Fund of $984,264 (excl. GST) has been established that will provide ongoing, annual payments to Bankstown City Council to manage the bushland at the site. This amount includes a grant of $964,264 from OEH through the Linking Landscapes project while Council has contributed the remaining $20,000. The Trust Fund provides Council with annual management payments of approximately $43,000 (excl. GST) for the first 10 years, $32,200 per annum until year 20 and then payments of approximately $26,400 (excl. GST and indexed) per annum in perpetuity.

Council transferred to OEH the 66 ecosystem credits and 13,546 species credits created by the biobank site in return for the grant funding. These credits have been 'retired' by OEH so that they cannot be used for any biodiversity offset.

Page last updated: 27 January 2016