What is the Biodiversity Conservation Trust all about and how can Landcarers benefit?
The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) is a statutory not-for-profit body established under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, and commenced operating on 25 August 2017. The BCT’s mission is to maximise biodiversity conservation outcomes by encouraging landholders to enter into conservation agreements for the management and protection of biodiversity.
Landholders in the Sydney Hunter region generally have two options to enter into agreements to conserve biodiversity on their land – voluntary Conservation Agreements and Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements.
Conservation Agreements are voluntary agreements under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 between the BCT and landholders to conserve and manage biodiversity on an area of land. This option is suited to landholders who have areas of high conservation value on their land and who wish to ensure those values are protected and managed into the future. Conservation Agreements are registered on the land title and transfer to subsequent landholders, ensuring that, if the land is sold, the agreement and protections it provides remain in place. For a Conservation Agreement, properties should have a minimum 20 hectares proposed to be conserved and managed for biodiversity. Landholders who have Conservation Agreements are eligible for Conservation Partners Grants. The aim of the grants is to assist landholders who have agreements to actively protect or improve the ecological value of their properties. For example, a landholder may need funding to manage a weed outbreak or to repair a fence to exclude stock. There are three levels of funding available:
- Up to $15,000 per year for up to three years for landholders with: in-perpetuity Conservation Agreements, Trust Agreements or Registered Property Agreements.
- Up to $8,000 per year for up to three years for landholders with: a term Registered Property Agreement.
- Up to $2,000 per year for up to three years for landholders with: a Wildlife Refuge or who are members of Land for Wildlife or Wildlife Land Trust.
Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements (BSA’s) are voluntary agreements between the BCT and a landholder to permanently protect and manage an area of land to improve its biodiversity values by generating biodiversity credits for sale. BSA’s are not suited to all landholders but are an option for landholders with ‘plant community types’ or habitat that is being cleared elsewhere for development and needs to be offset. BSA’s have significant up-front establishment costs and once established require landholders to submit an annual report and commit to annual management actions in order to receive an annual management payment. BSAs enable landholders to generate biodiversity credits, which you can sell to:
• a developer; or
• to the BCT; or
• to other interested parties.
There are a number of steps when seeking to enter into a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement, and landholders should check the offsets page on the BCT website for more information. If an landholder decides to progress with a BSA, they will need to engage the services of an accredited assessor to undertake the necessary assessment and submit the application.
If you are interested in entering into a voluntary Conservation Agreement with the BCT, please go to the BCT website:
- Expression of Interest form https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/
- For information on Conservation Agreements https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-05/ConservationPARTNERSProgram_Guide_for_Landholders.pdf
- For information on Grants https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/grants
For information on BSA’s, go to:
- Factsheet https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-09/BCT-FS-Biodiversity-Offsets-Program-WEB_1.pdf
- Brochure https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-10/offset_BSA_brochure.pdf
- Expression of Interest form https://www.bct.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-10/Landholder_EOI_BSA2.pdf