The Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust forms the centrepiece of the TJV’s offsets strategy for both Biodiversity and Greenhouse Offsets.
The five objectives of the Trust were developed with the former WA Department of Environment and Conservation and the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. These include: developing a Bioregional Management Plan for the GVD bioregions 1 and 2 (the Trust Area); facilitate priority research at the landscape level and into threatened species; fund on-ground environmental and conservation management at the landscape level, with emphasis on net conservation benefits to threatened species; facilitate Indigenous involvement in land management and conservation activities; and provide a direct offset to restore and rehabilitate degraded areas outside of the project’s disturbance area.
The Trust is managed via a Trust Deed and with the Public Trustee of WA which is accountable for its financial management. A Management Panel will decide how the funds will be directed guided by a Technical Advisory Panel. The composition of the Technical Advisory Panel will vary in relation to the work being carried out. The day-to-day activities of the Trust are coordinated by the GDV Trust Coordinator.
The TJV will contribute approximately A$4.4 million to the Trust over Tropicana’s current 10-year mine life. However, the contributions made will be escalated at CPI over the life of the Trust. The annual contributions to the Trust will comprise an annual fee and $/hectare per annum for the cleared footprint. It is anticipated that around 20% of the funding will be used for administration activities. In the event the annual administration cost exceeds the 20% the TJV will contribute additional funds to cover the extra costs.
It is envisaged that the Trust will facilitate research, environmental education and on-ground conservation work that will benefit the wider GVD region during and after the life of the Tropicana Gold Mine. The Trust will seek to collaborate with and/or support other initiatives in the area, for example, supporting regional Department of Parks & Wildlife staff or other appropriate organisations in undertaking baseline surveys. The knowledge gained through the Trust will be released to the public and be available for use by the State and other stakeholders in the region.
Offset strategies comprise direct and contributing offsets. Direct offsets are environmentally beneficial activities undertaken to counterbalance an adverse environmental impact or harm such as an ecosystem restoration offset, rehabilitation offset or land acquisition for conservation. Contributing offsets are environmentally beneficial activities undertaken that add to the environmental knowledge, research, management and protection that leads to improved environmental outcomes (EPA, 2008).
The TJV is only considering environmental offsets to manage impacts for which leading practice management options are insufficient to avoid and mitigate impacts (EPA 2006, 2007b; Federal Government 2007).