Landholders who have native vegetation to protect on their land may be able to generate significant environmental benefit (SEB) credits to sell to clearance applicants who need to offset their activities.
Credits are generated by entering into a management agreement for a designated site and implementing agreed actions, such as stock exclusion or pest control, in order to achieve biodiversity gains.
The Native Vegetation Credit Register is a public record of established and potential SEB sites. Clearance applicants can search the register and contact landowners directly to negotiate the purchase of available or potential credit.
A SEB site needs to meet several requirements as outlined below. The specifics of some of these conditions will only be known once negotiations commence with a clearance applicant, however they serve as a helpful guide when looking at potential site locations. For more information view the Native Vegetation Significant Environmental Benefit Policy 1 July 2020
1. Like for like, or better
Offsets should seek to maintain or improve the same vegetation type that occurs at the site of impact. This will ensure that vegetation and critical habitats are not degraded or lost from the landscape. In some instances it may be possible to depart from this rule, but usually only when a higher value vegetation type (i.e. higher conservation status) or habitat can be provided as an offset, securing a better conservation outcome.
A SEB site must be located as close to the area of impact as possible to ensure local impacts are adequately offset. The area should be selected in the following order of preference:
- Same Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) Association, or
- Same IBRA Subregion, or
- Only where it has been demonstrated that it is not possible to achieve the SEB within the same IBRA Association or IBRA Subregion, then the same IBRA Region.
A SEB site must be established over a clearly defined area of land of a minimum size (3 hectares for common vegetation types and 1 hectare for an area with threatened species or communities) and dimension (greater than 30 metres wide for 90 per cent of its length).
4. Biodiversity gain
A SEB site must improve the condition and/or extent of native vegetation over an area of land, to the extent that the gain in biodiversity is greater than the loss of biodiversity at the clearance site. Sites that are in moderate condition (for example, intact upper storey canopy but degraded under storey) are likely to produce the greatest gain in biodiversity through protection and management.
5. Additional to existing obligations
A SEB site must not already be protected for conservation purposes. This includes national parks, conservation parks, land subject to existing State Government funding, or contractual arrangements that have existing protection.
6. Protected in perpetuity
A SEB site must be conserved in perpetuity, meaning that it needs to be in an area where it will not be subject to future disturbance or used in a way that is inconsistent with that dedication.
If you are interested in establishing a SEB site, you need to:
- Register your site as a potential SEB credit site. It will be placed on the Native Vegetation Credit Register for clearance applicants to locate.
- If a clearance applicant is interested in your site they will contact you to discuss your site and the potential credit available. You (or the clearance applicant) can engage an accredited third party broker if you do not want to be involved in the negotiation or transaction process.
- Once there is a commitment to proceed, you will need to engage an accredited consultant to formally assess the available credit and to develop a management plan for the site. There is a cost for the assessment which should be factored into the amount negotiated with the clearance applicant. Submit the accredited consultant’s assessment along with an Application to Establish a SEB Area and Assign Credit to establish the SEB site to the Native Vegetation Branch.
- The Native Vegetation Council will assess your application and if approved, the site will be updated on the Native Vegetation Credit Register with the available credit listed for purchase. The clearance applicant can then submit an Application to Establish a SEB Area and Assign Credit to the Native Vegetation Council to purchase your credits. The application must be authorised by you and include proof that a contractual arrangement has been entered into between you and the clearance applicant.
- If the application is approved, you will enter into a management agreement with the Minister for Environment and Water. The credits will then be released to the clearance applicant and removed from the Native Vegetation Register.
- You will now be required to implement the management actions outlined in the management plan for the SEB site.