How does the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme work?

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme uses a transparent, consistent and scientific approach to assessing biodiversity values and offsetting the impacts of development on biodiversity.

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) is based on the ‘avoid, minimise, offset’ hierarchy.

Using the hierarchy proponents must:

  1. first consider whether the development can avoid a negative impact on the environment; 
  2. next consider whether the development can minimise any negative impacts that cannot be avoided; and
  3. once all reasonable steps to avoid or minimise environmental impacts have been exhausted, consider whether any remaining impacts can be offset. 

How does offsetting work?

Biodiversity offsetting is based on the theory that biodiversity values gained at an offset site will compensate for biodiversity values lost to development at another location to achieve a standard of ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity.  An offset site is a location where native vegetation condition and threatened species habitat are protected in perpetuity and can be improved by management actions such as fencing, weed control, pest control and planting native species. 

The primary purpose of offsetting is to facilitate development in an environmentally sustainable manner, and to ensure development does not have unacceptable impacts on native ecosystems and species. Offsetting also provides an incentive to protect biodiversity on private land, provides an income for landholders with offset sites and achieves biodiversity conservation outcomes into the future.

Two key elements

There are 2 key elements to the BOS.

Credit obligations

Developers and landholders generate a credit obligation due to unavoidable biodiversity impacts from development or vegetation clearing. The obligation must be retired to offset their activity.

Visit Credit obligations for more information.

Generating biodiversity credits

Landholders establish a biodiversity stewardship site on their land, generating credits to sell to developers or landholders who require those credits to securely offset activities at other sites.

Visit Generating and selling biodiversity credits for more information.