Published on February 19, 2014
Biodiversity Offsets in Canada Conference Biodiversity offsetting in Victoria Michael Crowe February 2014
Native Vegetation Controls Year: 1788 to 2012
Evolution of Offsetting in Victoria 1989 – Initial regulation of native vegetation clearing • an end to large scale clearing However offsetting was sporadic and not codified 1998 - Biodiversity mapping • Extant vegetation, 1750 vegetation, bioregions, threatened species Provided state-wide information base 2002 - Policy - the Native Vegetation Management Framework • No net loss, like-for-like, metrics ….. However developers found it hard to find their offsets 2007 – Offset market based on credit trading • Third party suppliers, brokers, credit register 2013 – Some policy amendments and technical improvements
The Regulation Regulation of native vegetation clearing: • A planning permit required to clear native vegetation • Assessment of permit applications based on the biodiversity significance of the impact • Applications must demonstrate ‘avoid’ and ‘minimise’ steps of the mitigation hierarchy • The permit (if granted) requires an offset
Offset policy in Victoria - 2002 The nature and size of the offset was set by Native Vegetation Management Framework policy (statutory document): – Avoid, minimise, offset – No Net Loss – Quality/area metric - habitat hectares – Offsets to be secure and ongoing – Additionality – Like for like rules – Biodiversity importance
No net loss – quality is important
Measuring site quality – 10 attributes in habitat hectares reduced cover of trees reduced recruitment reduced understorey diversity increased cover of weeds Habitat score = 0.50
Increased quality at the offset site tree canopy cover size & connectivity of the patch large old trees understorey diversity recruitment of young trees logs & organic litter Habitat score = 0.90
Estimating Gain Total gain = area x quality increment/ha • Improvement gain Increments in quality attribute scores resulting from restoration actions (eg revegetation) • Management gain Increments in quality attribute scores resulting from actions to control threatening processes (eg pest & weed control) • Security gain Increments in overall quality score depending on the changes in land use (eg establish protected areas) • Gain scoring includes rules for additionality
Secure and ongoing • The landowner agreement – private land − permanent statutory contract − binds future landowners – on title − actions and commitments in the management plan − reporting and monitoring • Land surrender − private land donated to a permanent protected area • Upgrade to Protected Area − government re-classifies public land to higher security category through legislation
The offsetting process - summary Developers Developers required to provide offsets • first party • third party (market) Loss site assessment, Permit application Local Government Determine small impacts Refer large impacts to State Government Permit may be granted Permit includes offset conditions – offset plan
BushBroker price history Offset market Bioregion Number of Agreements credit prices Total number of Habitat Hectares Average price per Habitat Hectare * (of total Agreements) Habitat Hectare price range * (more than 80% of Agreements) Central Victorian Uplands 8 10 $110,000 $46,000 - $143,000 Gippsland Plain 21 29 $149,000 $85,000 - $250,000 Goldfields 39 38 $45,000 $25,000 - $66,000 Victorian Riverina 10 11 $101,000 $80,000 - $110,000 Victorian Volcanic Plain 29 54 $170,000 HighlandsSouthern Fall 14 74 $34,000 Other bioregions 11 25 $370,000 • $20,000 - $38,000 $206,000 $380,000 Third party offsets estimated 25-50% savings over first party • $49,000 $267,000 Estimated market turnover up to $100m Prices vary by bioregion, EVC, location, rarity, demand and urgency of developer, landowner needs. Also initial trade, small or large trades
2013 Revisions New provisions were recently announced: • Like for like Threatened species – distribution models Everything else – increased flexibility • Use of maps for site assessment reduced transaction cost assessment consistency accuracy of maps? • Transaction cost reduction more ‘over the counter’
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