Media Releases - 06 December 2023

Nature Repair Market Bill passes Senate after offset link removed

The Nature Repair Market Bill 2023 has passed the Senate overnight, following amendments that removed offsetting provisions.

The Bill will introduce a scheme whereby businesses can receive tradable certificates in return for investment in nature protection and restoration. However, following amendments to the Bill, this scheme will no longer be allowed to be used to offset the destruction of nature elsewhere.

The Wilderness Society previously flagged concerns around the possibility of business and industry offsetting environmental degradation through the nature repair market, which in its initial form effectively incentivised nature destruction. That the Bill has now passed without these offsetting provisions is welcome news.

However, concerns remain that the nature repair market threatens the continued destruction of nature, as future amendments could allow developers to carry on without regard for the protection and restoration of Australia’s environment, and “offset” any impacts on nature.

There is also a risk of over-reliance on this nature repair scheme to fund nature restoration and protection, allowing the federal government to step back from their crucial role as funders and managers of environmental conservation. Markets are limited in their ability to effectively negotiate the necessary elements of effective nature protection, such as meaningful consideration of the public interest and the exclusion of unacceptable impacts on nature.

Care must also be taken when developing market schemes such as these, because assessing the worth of a threatened species or ecosystem on the basis of a financial ‘biodiversity value’ alone is inherently flawed.

Amelia Young, National Campaigns Director for the Wilderness Society, said, “An effective Nature Repair Market must not rely on growing environmental destruction in order to sustain itself as a ‘market’.

“While removing the offset link is positive, the fundamental issues of the financialisation of nature remain, as do the risks of offsets being reattached to the market through later legislation.

“A nature repair market alone will not stop wildlife extinction. Properly enforcing the current EPBC Act is the action we expect the Government to be taking right now, while also reforming Australia’s nature laws.”