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Case study Heatherbrae

Establishing a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement has provided a long-term funding opportunity for the Botanic Gardens, protected and improved biodiversity, and allowed the community to learn more about local ecosystems.


The Heatherbrae Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement (BSA) was executed in May 2018 and is part of the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens (Botanic Gardens). The Botanic Gardens is run entirely by volunteers and has operated under Hunter Water management at Heatherbrae since 1986

In 2014, annual funding to the Botanic Gardens ceased, placing the community organisation at serious risk of closure. Hunter Water investigated a range of long-term funding options and identified establishing a BSA and stewardship site as the most suitable, that would provide long-term funding for the Botanic Gardens, as well as protect and improve biodiversity.

In 2019, all the credits for the threatened ecological community ‘Forest Red Gum grassy open forest on floodplains of the lower Hunter’ were sold but remaining species and ecosystem credits need to be sold to move the site from passive to active management.

The process of applying for and establishing a BSA has allowed Hunter Water to better understand the biodiversity needs of the site and has opened up proactive conversations with the volunteers that manage the site on a day-to-day basis.

While Hunter Water’s experience with having a BSA may not be the same as most landholders, it has provided the community with an opportunity to be more aware of the local species and ecosystems at risk.

Properly managing lantana is improving habitat for koalas, particularly in a wildlife corridor. Ecological fire management is improving floral diversity for ground layer species, such as orchids, and reduces the risk of wildfire and helps protect the koala population in the Tomago Borefields.

A spokesperson for Hunter Water said, ‘The NSW Biodiversity Offset Scheme will hopefully present great opportunities for landholders in the future. As the [biodiversity] credits market matures, we expect the benefits of participation in the scheme will be more predictable.

‘Participation in the scheme has helped to facilitate discussions about biodiversity conservation at all levels within our organisation including grounds maintenance staff, environmental planners, finance managers through to the executive and the board.’


Heatherbrae Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement site