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Ecological Research & Management

Gain Scoring and Offsets

Brett Lane & Associates

BL&A assists clients to locate offset sites through landowners, independent bush brokers or DEPI’s BushBroker program. Note that in most cases, offset sites can be located and documented as a condition of the native vegetation removal planning permit. The condition will usually require that an ‘offset plan’ be prepared to the satisfaction of the Council and sometimes DEPI. This is known as a secondary consent process and without consent to the offset plan works on a project usually cannot commence. Sometimes finding an offset site that meets requirements can take time and this should be allowed for in project planning.

Once the offset site has been selected, the achievable net gain through improved native vegetation management, protection and revegetation that is possible at the site can be calculated. If sourcing a site via an established broker, this will already have been done. The net gain calculated considers the existing vegetation quality and measures the gain in habitat score (and therefore habitat hectare value) that would result from protection and management of the offset site for conservation purposes. The types of gain are presented below.

  • Prior management gain

  • Security gain

  • Maintenance gain

  • Improvement gain

Once the achievable gain has been calculated, an offset management plan will be prepared that details the characteristics of the offset site, how it meets the offset target and the management actions required to meet that target.

How long does it take to find a suitable offset site?

The time it takes to find a suitable offset site depends on a number of factors, including the availability of a particular type of native vegetation and whether it supports habitat for the same listed threatened species, if relevant, that may also be affected by the proposed vegetation removal.

Can I offset anywhere?

The offset site must meet the ‘like-for-like’ requirements of the state policy. These prescribe a narrow range of criteria that an offset site must meet determined by the type and condition of the vegetation being removed. Finding a site that meets these requirements can often take time.

I have some native vegetation within my property and would like to sell it as an offset, is this possible?

Private landowners can sell offsets. An assessment would need to be made of the property to identify what offsets are available, what gain can be achieved (i.e. undertake gain scoring) and whether the offset parcels are manageable. BL&A have assisted a number of landowners in this regard and would be able to assist with any queries.