Under state and federal legislation, the removal of native vegetation on one site due to a government-approved development may be offset by the protection and enhancement of native vegetation at another site. As this improved native vegetation is required to be protected in perpetuity, conservation covenants through Trust for Nature are one of the ways that offset sites can be secured in Victoria.
Trust for Nature acts to secure the site in an offset agreement. Once we have confirmed that a site meets our covenanting criteria, we register a deed of covenant (with an offset management plan) through our powers under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act 1972.
As well as the deed of covenant, we are party to a credit trading agreement which facilitates the transfer of credits or offset units between the landholder and the proponent. We hold and distribute annually the security funds to the landholder for the management of the site once reporting and monitoring requirements have been adequately met. Our stewardship team is a point of support and advice for landholders who are protecting offset sites, and our team additionally monitors compliance requirements, checking that key targets have been met.
Trust for Nature is not involved in the regulation of offsets, or decisions regarding approvals for the removal of native vegetation. Our Biodiversity Offsets Program provides a service to secure offset sites only after an offset obligation has been imposed by a regulator. We also do not typically act as a broker or conduct offset site assessments.
Trust for Nature is committed to protecting habitat. We have extensive experience in permanently protecting private land in Victoria, and an established stewardship program which supports landholders who have conservation covenants. We believe that the environment is best served by having knowledgeable and committed organisations like Trust for Nature involved in the offsets program to ensure vegetation quality is maintained and improved.