Key features of the new legislation

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides better tools to avoid, minimise and offset biodiversity impacts through land use planning and during the development assessment process

The Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) is a new scientific method that assesses biodiversity values – it calculates likely biodiversity losses from impacts at development sites and gains from conserving land at stewardship sites

Accredited assessors will carry out all BAM assessments - the Minister for the Environment will be responsible for establishing the accreditation scheme

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme includes rules that govern how biodiversity offsets will be used to ensure they deliver clear conservation outcomes

Landholders will be able to establish stewardship sites to create biodiversity credits, and these credits will be available to the market to offset the impacts of development or clearing

Payments can also be made to the Biodiversity Conservation Trust to meet an offset obligation in accordance with the Offsets Payment Calculator – the Trust will then secure the biodiversity offsets

The Biodiversity Assessment Method

The Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) assesses the biodiversity value of land and calculates likely losses in biodiversity values resulting from clearing of native vegetation and habitat destruction. It also calculates likely gains in biodiversity values from conserving native vegetation and actively managing land for conservation as a stewardship site. A tool to apply the BAM is also on public exhibition.

The BAM will be applied by accredited assessors and the report prepared by the assessor must be considered by the decision making in granting approval to impact biodiversity. A draft of the scheme that will be used to accredit persons to apply the BAM has been released for pubic consultation.

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will simplify assessment and improve biodiversity outcomes. It creates consistent biodiversity assessment requirements for development and offset (stewardship) sites. The Scheme will help to compensate for potential impact on biodiversity from development.

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme Threshold establishes a risk-based approach to identifying developments that are likely to have a significant impact on biodiversity. The draft BC Regulation sets out a proposal for the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme Threshold which includes a Sensitive Biodiversity Values Land Map. A draft Map has been released for public consultation.

The draft Biodiversity Conservation (BC) Regulation sets out offset rules that govern the type of biodiversity credits that can be used for offsetting. The offset rules also govern how a biodiversity certification applicant or the Biodiversity Conservation Trust can meet an offset requirement.

The Offsets Payment Calculator will determine how much a proponent must pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet an offset obligation. A proposed pricing model for the calculator has been released for public consultation. Further details are provided in the Offsets Payment Calculator and User Manual.

Biodiversity Certification

The BC Act establishes a scheme for the biodiversity certification of land which strengthens and improves the existing biodiversity certification framework. After land has been certified, development may proceed without the usual requirement for site by site assessment.

The BC Act allows the Minister for the Environment to declare some biodiversity applications by planning authorities as ‘strategic’ in accordance with criteria set out in the draft BC Regulation.

Considering Serious and Irreversible Impacts

The draft BC Regulation includes principles for determining which impacts are ‘serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity values’. Guidance designed to assist in the application of these principles has also been released for consultation.