When a proposal’s impacts on biodiversity and/or ecological function cannot be fully mitigated, an offset package could be considered to support developments to become ecologically sustainable. Environmental offsets or environmentally beneficial activites can be determined in conjuction with proactive mechanisms such as use of best practice environmental management to ensure impact avoidance is the primary consideration. Offsets should also be developed in accordance with State and Federal policies.
Offsets vary depending on the type of project, the envionment being impacted and the significance of the impact on the environment. Project impacts may include:
- clearing impacts on flora – Declared Rare Flora (DRF), Priority Flora, Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs), Priority Ecological Communities (PECs) and Federally protected flora
- clearing impacts on Specially Protected (State or Federal level) fauna, Priority Fauna and their habitats
- impacts on biodiversity and ecological function e.g. increased access and boundary effects
- impacts to wetlands of conservation significance (e.g. Ramsar, Conservation Category Wetlands, Resource Enhancement Wetlands, lakes subject to specific Environmental Protection Policies)
- impacts to Bush Forever Sites, reserves, parks, corridors and buffers.
Offsets assist to create environmentally responsible projects with a minimum standard of no net environmental loss or alternatively a project with a net consveration benefit, consistent with State and Federal legislation, polices, discussion papers and guidance.
Offsets can be developed to meet a proponent’s environmental approval requirements and to be aligned with corporate environmental management objectives. Offsets can aim to protect, reduce impacts on, or enhance environmental assets through a variety of means. An Offset Strategy can be used to engage with stakeholders and to seek feedback as to the appropriateness of the offsets proposed.
Acknowledgement: 360 Environmental Pty Ltd