Law and Biodiversity Banking Schemes

The Biodiversity Banking and Offset scheme, introduced almost two years ago, will shortly be implemented in New South Wales. On 11 July 2008 the biobanking assessment methodology was published in the NSW Government Gazette. This is a key element of the scheme.

Establishing a biobank site (the landowner) or issuing a biobanking statement (the developer). Implementation is proposed by January 2009.

The biodiversity credit calculations used to determine the number of biobanking credits that:

* a developer is required to purchase (to be issued with a biobanking statement), or
* a landowner may create to establish a biobanking site (so that the landowner can sell the credits to the developer)

may only be undertaken by an accredited BioBanking Assessor. The accreditation is issued after successful completion of the BioBanking Assessors Course1.

Once the accreditation process has been completed, biobanking sites can be established under clause 127A(7)(b) of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (Act). While no biobanking sites can be established until the accredited Biobanking Assessors are certified, there are landowners waiting in the wings keen to register biobanking sites. So far, at least 16 expressions of interest have already been provided to the DECC which administers the Act.
The implications

The practical implications of the biodiversity banking and offset scheme are as follows:

* where a developer proposes to make an application for a biobanking statement they must:
o undertake an assessment to determine if there will be any loss to the biodiversity values on the development site; and
o provide the measures to be taken to improve or maintain those values
* satisfying the ‘improve or maintain’ test may include the developer purchasing biobanking credits from landowners who have established biobanking sites
* by using the published methodology, biodiversity values can be calculated to allow for the creation of biobanking credits, and
* once the biobanking credits have been created, usually by landowners entering into a biobanking agreement, they can be traded or purchased by developers.

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