The Biodiversity Offset Guidelines Project is an initiative of the STCA’s 12 member Councils that evolved as a response to the increasing use of biodiversity offsets as a planning tool used in the local government development assessment (planning) process, as well as increased responsibilities for Planning Authorities in assessing the clearance and conversion of native vegetation.

The objectives of the project are to prepare a set of guidelines for the use of biodiversity offsets by Council planners, NRM officers, applicants, developers and their consultants in a regionally consistent manner that will:

  • Assist in providing for improved management of biodiversity values and achieve net gain in the extent and quality of threatened native vegetation and threatened species habitat that is securely protected and effectively managed in southern Tasmania.
  • Provide a tool which will assist planning officers to negotiate appropriate offsets to ensure that unavoidable impacts are mitigated appropriately.
  • Achieve an equitable and streamlined offset process for developers working across multiple Local Government municipalities by minimising the current ad hoc approach.

Specifically the Guidelines are intended to provide a consistent approach across the region on:

  • The appropriate instances for the use of biodiversity offsets, including when a loss cannot be offset;
  • The information and expertise required to enable effective assessment of proposals impacting biodiversity, including both small and large-scale impacts and proposals.
  • The assessment ‘criteria’ to determine whether a proposed offset is appropriate to deliver the environmental outcomes sought for differing environmental values;
  • A set of ‘offset principles’ to guide applicants and developers in determining the appropriate scope and size of offset packages required to meet the environmental outcome sought for differing environmental values;
  • The various implementation tools available to Local Government (taking into account the analysis of existing legal mechanisms), what is required to ensure their appropriate use and what systems need to be in place to ensure they are effective.

While the Project is managed through the STCA, governance of the Project is through a Working Group comprising of representatives of member Councils and is also supported through a technical reference group comprising of representatives from State Government, the Forest Practices Authority, NRM South and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

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