Kingborough is recognised as containing a high proportion of significant biodiversity values including being the only municipality in Tasmania where endangered forty-spotted pardalotes are found on private land and being home to core foraging and breeding habitats for the critically endangered Swift Parrot. These species were once widespread, but are now facing extinction due to habitat loss, predators and other environmental changes.
That’s why we’re taking action to make sure loss of critical habitat is minimised and any residual impacts that can’t be avoided are offset using Council’s Biodiversity Offset Policy.
Council began utilising biodiversity offsets in 2004 as an innovative approach to tackling the challenge of balancing development whilst conserving biodiversity for the future. The greatest demand for offsets is from areas on the urban fringe and is generally associated with residential development, including new subdivisions, home and roads.
WHAT IS AN OFFSET?
Offsets are a practical tool that compensate for any residual impact of vegetation clearing on biodiversity. They are the last resort after options to avoid and/or minimise impacts have been exhausted. For instance for a house in a bushland area, the impact would include the vegetation clearance required for the construction of the house and the implementation of the associated bushfire management plan. Any impacts on biodiversity that cannot be avoided during the development are offset.
There are two types of offsets used in Kingborough; direct and indirect. The majority of offsets will typically involve direct offset actions at the site of impact, for example protecting and restoring similar values on the site in perpetuity.
Indirect offsets are used to manage residual impacts on biodiversity that cannot be secured on the development site. This type of offset primarily occurs as financial contributions. These are used for smaller impacts where a financial contribution held in trust can deliver a more strategic outcome for biodiversity.
The key principles in offsetting are that actions are required to be new and permanent and “like for like”, meaning they are to be utilised for the protection and management of the same biodiversity values that were originally impacted.
THE ENVIRONMENT FUND
The Kingborough Environmental Fund collects financial offsets paid by developers and landowners for the loss of high conservation value vegetation in Kingborough.
Most offsets are received for the loss of threatened species habitat such as swift parrot, forty spotted pardalote, or for the loss of threatened vegetation communities in Kingborough.
The funds are then reinvested into the community through local environmental projects which secure the offset that was required by the planning authority. Pooling contributions in the fund allows a strategic approach to securing offsets, leading to targeted protection and improvement of biodiversity.
To ensure Council administers the fund with scientific rigour and good governance it is overseen by a Steering Committee made up of ecologists, landowners and a State Government representative. The Guidelines for Expenditure of the Kingborough Environmental Fund provide the rules which ensure the financial contributions within the fund are spent appropriately on offset projects. The details of each contribution within the fund are recorded to ensure the loss of biodiversity values can be tracked and the conditions of the offset reconciled.
The Fund invests in three delivery streams;
- New conservation reserves on private land
- New habitat planting projects
- Recovery actions for threatened species
The creation of new conservation reserves on private land is the most important delivery stream for the fund. Investing in private land conservation allows the fund to offset the loss of biodiversity values that don’t necessarily occur within national parks and reserves and allows landowners to do something very positive for the greater good.
The Kingborough Environmental Fund Implementation Plan below oversees and guides the expenditure of the fund over a period of four years.
THE FUND AT A GLANCE
As of October 2022 Financial offsets received received:
Financial offsets expended:
Financial offsets expenditure still to be achieved:
- How much land (ha) has been protected as a result of the fund
Total of 242.9 ha protected over 6 covenants including:
- Black peppermint forest on sandstone – 65.8 ha (exceeded target by 39.19 ha)
- Blue gum dry forest and woodland – 105.3 ha (exceeded target by 101.58 ha)
- Silver peppermint forest on sediments – 10.5 ha (exceeded target by 5.75 ha)
- Of this its estimated that we have protected:
- Over 125 ha swift parrot habitat (exceeded target by at least 104.77 ha)
- Over 33 ha forty-spotted pardalote habitat (exceeded target by at least 27.89 ha)
- Over 3 ha chaostola skipper habitat (exceeded target by at least 2.21 ha)
- Over 5 ha Epacris virgata habitat (exceeded target by at least 4.57 ha)