Biodiversity Assessment Guidelines - Changes to Specific Offset Requirements Calculation

Important information for proponents with Specific Offset obligations

On 21 October the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) revised the method for calculating Specific Offsets under Victoria's Permitted clearing of native vegetation – Biodiversity assessment guidelines  (the Guidelines), a decision which is likely to reduce the biodiversity offset obligations triggered by many development projects in Victoria. 

This significant amendment is the first announced since the Department committed to an overarching review of the Guidelines in early 2015 and follows a recent series of stakeholder and local government consultation sessions (see information on the review).   

Since commencement of the Guidelines in late 2013, Ecology and Heritage Partners have applied the policy to hundreds of development projects throughout Victoria.  Drawing on this experience, we have provided specialist advice and inputs to the review process and will continue to advocate on behalf of our clients to promote an improved outcome that considers the practicalities of implementation and the protection of our State’s significant biodiversity values. 

A summary of the recent changes and key implications is provided below.  It is critically important that proponents seek advice as to how these changes are likely to, or have the potential to affect the final offset requirement and associated specific offset obligations (for rare and threatened species) for their projects.

What has changed?

Specific offset obligations for clearing sites will now be calculated in the same way that available credits at offset sites are calculated.  The amendment to the calculation changes the area of species habitat that is used to calculate Specific Biodiversity Equivalence Units.  This area is now only where the species habitat importance map indicates habitat to be.  Previously, the area that was considered a species habitat was expanded out to the whole patch of native vegetation (as mapped through a habitat hectare assessment) that the species habitat importance map intersected with.

Who does this affect?

The amendment affects all applicants (or future applicants) for permits to remove native vegetation that require Specific Offsets for significant species habitat if the application is made on or after 20 December 2013.  Applicants with only General Offset requirements are not affected by the amendment.

How does this affect my project?

The amendment may result in a reduction in offset obligations for projects that require Specific Offsets and in some instances a Specific Offset may no longer apply.  If you have a project with Specific Offset requirements we strongly recommend contacting one of our trusted ecological consultants to arrange for a review of offset obligations consistent with current policy.

If you believe your project may be affected, or if you require further clarification on how these changes may affect you please don’t hesitate to call us on (03) 9377 0100 or email

Relevant Link

DELWP Fact Sheet

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