Introduction of revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW to the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme

The Department of Planning and Environment is planning for the introduction of the revised classification of Plant Community Types in eastern NSW (revised PCTs) into the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (the Scheme) and Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM).

Changes occurring

Revised PCTs in eastern NSW will not apply to the Scheme for at least 6 months after the public release to allow stakeholders to become familiar with the new scientific data. The public release on 24 June 2022 gave all stakeholders access to the new scientific information in BioNet applications.

The launch of the revised PCTs into the Scheme will be staged with transitional arrangements. Scheme participants will be supported with guidance and tools.

The revised PCTs will be easier to use in land use decisions and biodiversity assessments and provide greater confidence, certainty, and transparency for the wide range of applications that use them in day-to-day business functions.

The revised PCTs are being published as part of a broader program of work – the Integrated BioNet Vegetation Data for NSW (IBVD) – that will see all PCTs across NSW reviewed and mapped. For more information about the new data and IBVD, visit the Integrated BioNet Vegetation Data for NSW webpage.

Resources and tools to support a seamless transition for users

Support tools will be provided to smooth the transition to the Scheme, including a PCT to Offset Trading Group (OTG) tool that shows the pre-eastern NSW PCTs and revised eastern NSW PCTs that can be traded within OTGs under the like-for-like offset rules. The tool will support landholders and developers to understand the application of the like-for-like offset rules in the context of both pre-eastern NSW and revised PCT biodiversity credits.

To discover which OTGs the revised PCTs belong to you can access visit the PCT to OTG Tool.

This webpage will be updated over time to include more information about transitional arrangements for the Scheme including; frequently asked questions (FAQs) and links to resources.

The public release of IBVD data products will include technical support tools for users to become familiar with and apply the revised PCTs, including the Plot to PCT Assignment Tool, State Vegetation Type Map products and the Trees Near Me NSW app.

Find out more

Existing Scheme approvals and associated biodiversity credits remain valid and continue to operate under the Scheme’s offset rules. 

Biodiversity credits based on pre-eastern NSW PCT data can trade with biodiversity credits from either pre-eastern NSW PCTs data or revised PCT data in accordance with the Scheme’s offset rules. 

Note that biodiversity credits relating to threatened ecological communities will be unaffected by revised PCTs given they are identified by the name of the TEC and assessed according to the listing information prepared by the Scientific Committee.

In-progress assessments (those that have commenced a BAM-C case before the launch of revised PCTs into the Scheme) will not be affected. Transitional arrangements will allow in-progress assessments a choice – either to opt-in to use revised PCTs, or continue to apply pre-eastern NSW PCTs data.

New assessments in eastern NSW that commence in the BAM-C after the launch of the revised PCTs into the Scheme will need to apply the revised PCTs.

The new classification will result in some additional data changes that are linked to PCTs. For example, associations for threatened species to the revised PCTs have been created, which will influence the species that require assessment on a site. These changes are the result of a systematic and centrally coordinated review of primary data.   

Similarly, the Biodiversity Risk Weightings – a component of the BAM metrics used to determine the credit obligation of an impact assessment – may also adjust for non-threatened vegetation because of the revised PCTs.

For eligible assessments, access to legacy Plant Community Type data in the BAM-Calculator (BAM-C) is proposed for up to 6 months for local Part 4 proposals and for up to 12 to 24 months for major project proposals, biodiversity certification assessments and the assessment of biodiversity stewardship sites. A final decision on transition timeframes will be made later in the year based on a review of stakeholder feedback.

The department is seeking your feedback on these timeframes to inform our transitional arrangements. Please send your thoughts to BOS.helpdesk@environment.nsw.gov.au

Threatened species assessment requirements may change for some proposals based on the Plant Community Types present on the subject land.

To prepare for the introduction of the revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW, the department conducted a systematic and holistic update of threatened species associations to Plant Community Types in the Threatened Biodiversity Data Collection (TBDC). The update incorporated recent records and knowledge about threatened species. Associations for threatened species to the revised Plant Community Types will influence the candidate species credit species considered likely to occur on the subject land. This may result in a change to the candidate threatened species that require further assessment for a certain number of assessments.

To review the threatened species associations for the revised PCTs in eastern NSW, download the BioNet power query, Threatened Species to Plant Community Types (PCT) Association data, or for other BioNet resources visit NSW BioNet resources.

Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs) associations have been assigned to the revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW, which will better indicate which TECs may be present on the subject land.

On 24 June 2022, the revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW were released in BioNet applications, including information on the relationships between the previous 'legacy' Plant Community Types (decommissioned Plant Community Types) and the revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW (approved Plant Community Types). These relationships are known as 'lineage transformations' and are held in the BioNet Vegetation Classification application. The lineage data are useful for field assessors and other users who are familiar with legacy Plant Community Types. The lineage transformations vary from simple one-to-one matches to more complex relationships depending on the scale and robustness of the decommissioned Plant Community Types.

For more information about lineage transformations, refer to the section 'Tracking changes to the Plant Community Types master list' on the Plant Community Types: change control webpage.

Over 100 new Plant Community Types in the revised classification were not previously described and do not have lineage information. After field survey, Biodiversity Assessment Method accredited assessors, and other users should first consult the Plot to Plant Community Types Assignment Tool to identify, based on floristic information, the Plant Community Types on the subject land.

The lineage data in BioNet does not include information about biodiversity credits. To understand how ecosystem credits from the legacy Plant Community Types classification can trade with those from the revised Plant Community Types classification, you can use the Plant Community Type to Offset Trading Group lookup tool. This tool allows users to search for a Plant Community Type and identify the like-for-like credit retirement options for ecosystem credits.

Once the revised Plant Community Types for eastern NSW have been imported into the BAM-C, credit reports will include lists of legacy and revised Plant Community Types that are like-for-like credit retirement options.

No, there is no requirement for credit equivalency statements or changes to existing consent conditions. The legislative framework for the Scheme ensures that ecosystem credits based on either legacy or revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW may continue to trade in accordance with the offset rules. Ecosystem credit obligations based on a legacy Plant Community Types, or for a revised Plant Community Types credit, can be satisfied by:

  • using credits from legacy Plant Community Types
  • using credits from the revised Plant Community Types
  • using a mix of credits from both the legacy and revised Plant Community Types.

To see which legacy and revised Plant Community Types for eastern NSW are like-for-like credit retirement options, refer to the Plant Community Type to Offset Trading Group lookup tool. The tool allows Scheme participants to search for a Plant Community Type and to display a list of both legacy and revised Plant Community Types that are like-for-like credit retirement options.

For more information about offset trading groups, visit the Offset trading groups webpage.

Yes, biodiversity credits for legacy Plant Community Types will remain valid and continue to trade under the Scheme's offset rules. Credit holdings based on either the legacy or revised Plant Community Types in eastern NSW can be used to satisfy offset obligations for credits from the legacy or revised Plant Community Types. There is no requirement for credit equivalency statements or changes to existing credit holdings.

The Plant Community Type to Offset Trading Group lookup tool displays how the like-for-like offset rules apply to both legacy and revised Plant Community Types. The tool allows credit holders to search for a Plant Community Type and to display a list of Plant Community Types from both classifications that are like-for-like trading options.

The Scheme public registers can help to connect credit buyers and sellers and increase market transparency. To view the credits wanted register, please visit the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme public registers webpage.

Credits can be sold to the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT). For more information about credits wanted by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust, please visit the Credit Offer Portal webpage.

To access transitional arrangements, you must commence a BAM-C case before the date BAM-C is updated with the revised Plant Community Types for eastern NSW (and associated scientific data).

After the revised Plant Community Types for eastern NSW are imported into the BAM-C, your case will include an alert advising you of the update and the need to select a reference database for your assessment. If you have commenced a BAM-C case before the import date, you can choose from the legacy Plant Community Types database or the revised Plant Community Types for the eastern NSW database.

If you commence a new case after the data import into BAM-C and your assessment is located in the coastal and tableland bioregions of eastern NSW, you will be required to apply the revised Plant Community Types.

If you have undertaken substantial survey and reconnaissance work during the scoping phase of a major project or biodiversity certification proposal in eastern NSW, you will need to create a BAM-C case before the revised Plant Community Types for eastern NSW data import to access the transitional arrangements. If you miss this date, you may request access to legacy Plant Community Type data; however, this will be an administrative process and subject to time delay. To submit the request, evidence of survey and assessment work carried out prior to the date will need to be provided to the department.

For projects that extend across the boundary of the study area for the revised eastern (coast and tablelands IBRA bioregions), such as long linear developments, you may create separate Biodiversity Offsets and Agreements Management System (BOAMS) child cases (BAM-C assessments) for each Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) subregion that forms part of the assessment. The transitional arrangements will capture those in-progress BAM-C cases occurring in subregions within the eastern NSW coast and tablelands bioregions.

Any new project assessments commencing after the import of the revised Plant Community Types into the BAM-C that straddles this boundary will need to apply the revised Plant Community Types within the eastern NSW coast and tablelands bioregions (Australian Alps, New England Tablelands, NSW North Coast, South East Corner, South Eastern Highlands, South Eastern Queensland, Sydney Basin), and the current Plant Community Types in the western slopes bioregions (Brigalow Belt South, Nandewar, South West Slopes) and further west. The revised Plant Community Types study area aligns with the IBRA subregion boundaries.

Work is underway to revise Plant Community Types in the central and western IBRA regions of New South Wales. This will support consistent outcomes for assessments across New South Wales.