Governance

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is responsible for managing $90 million worth of offset contributions over the next 40 years. This will ensure that offset payments directly benefit vegetation and habitat impacted by mining.

Each of the government, mining and community sectors expect good governance and all have helped develop the fund’s governance framework.

Traditional owners, industry, government, natural resource management organisations, conservation groups and the research sector have advised government on the development and evaluation of the five-year implementation plan, which defines the priorities and criteria for project selection.

The fund is managed in accordance with the governance framework and terms of reference for the implementation advisory group (IAG) and the project recommendation group (PRG).

The governance framework and terms of reference establish transparent decision-making processes, clarify roles and responsibilities, and guide the delivery of projects with the monies receipted to the fund.

Core principles

The Minister for Environment has endorsed five core principles which frame delivery of the fund, which are:

  1. Transparent and accountable fund administration
  2. Cost-efficiency, including maximising leveraging opportunities to achieve regional environmental outcomes and minimising administration
  3. Effective performance evaluation and continual improvement
  4. Clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  5. Constructive and transparent engagement with key stakeholders

Roles and responsibilities

Minister for Environment

The Minister is the fund’s key decision-maker. He or she decides which projects get funded based on the criteria set in the plan.

Departmental management

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (the department) manages the fund given its role in assuring compliance with the Financial Management Act 1997, Part IV of the EP Act (Ministerial Conditions), the WA Offsets Policy and conditions of the special purpose account. The department also chairs and provides the secretariat for the IAG and PRG.

The department and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) jointly advise the Minister, including putting forward the recommendations of the IAG and PRG.

Implementation advisory group (IAG)

The IAG is a group of experts associated with rehabilitation and conservation projects in the Pilbara, representing:

  • the mining industry
  • state government agencies
  • non-government land management and conservation organisations
  • traditional owners
  • Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute

The IAG provides advice to the Directors General of this department and DCBA, and the Minister for Environment on:

  • strategies, plans, reports and projects that exist to conserve biodiversity in the Pilbara
  • leveraging opportunities
  • the five-year implementation plan
  • the scope of each grant round
  • the fund’s monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement framework

The IAG meets quarterly, although a special meeting may be convened by the Chair at any time. The IAG meeting schedule, agenda and minutes can be found on the implementation advisory group page.

IAG membership

IAG members include:

Name Organisation Position
Jan Cowan Pilbara Aboriginal Voice Pilbara Aboriginal Voice member
TBC Pilbara Aboriginal Voice Pilbara Aboriginal Voice member
Patrick Seares – Chair Department of Water and Environmental Regulation Executive Director Strategy and Engagement
TBC Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions Assistant Director, Science Biodiversity and Conservation Science
Blair Parsons Greening Australia Science and Programs Leader – Western Region
Jo Williams Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee Project Manager
Harriet Davies Specialist Biological Sciences, Roy Hill AMEC Representative
Karin Bankin Rio Tinto CME Representative
Lesley Gibson Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute  

Project recommendation group (PRG)

The PRG consists of representatives from this department, DBCA and the federal Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE), all of whom have experience in the deployment of biodiversity conservation projects.

An independent probity officer attends PRG meetings to ensure that project recommendation decisions are made in accordance with the implementation plan and the guideline for applicants for that grant round.

The PRG reviews project applications and recommends to the Minister which projects should be invested in.

Delivery agents

Delivery Agents will deliver projects selected by the Minister.

They may be drawn from the not-for-profit, government or private sectors through partnerships, direct requests or a call for expressions of interest.

Delivering the fund

Project implementation principles

State and federal offset policies define principles to guide the implementation of environmental offsets.

Offsets Framework

Offsets Register

Key offset policy principles for implementation of the fund are:

Key principles Details

Relevant and proportional

  • Projects implemented through the fund must improve environmental matters by a value that is equal or greater than the impact approved to be offset. This should occur in the same IBRA sub-region as where the impact occurred.

Cost-effective

  • Offset projects must be designed so they are value for money and have a high chance of success.

Strategic and landscape scale

  • Deliver projects that are linked and integrated across the Pilbara bioregion. 
  • Enable threats such as weeds, fire and feral animals to be addressed more cost-effectively at an appropriate scale.
  • Build on existing successful regional programs (e.g. State Government conservation initiatives, current biosecurity management programs and ranger groups) to increase the conservation outcomes of offset activities.
Tangible improvement
  • Environmental matters must lead directly to a tangible and measurable improvement to the environmental matters required to be offset.
Enduring and secure in the longer term
  • Environmental offset projects must endure for as long as possible (ideally at least 20 years).

Additional to existing legislative obligations

  • Environmental offsets are additional when they are added to those that are already required by way of condition of approval or lease, or legislation.

Priority areas for investment

The fund will target investment in areas with a high density of both state and federal environmental matters, and where land tenure provides an opportunity for legal access and longevity for offset outcomes.

Projects will be delivered at different scales:

  • Landscape-scale programs address threats like weeds, feral animals, and inappropriate fire across the landscape. 
  • Priority area programs build on the landscape-scale outcomes to further improve and protect vegetation and species habitat in identified priority areas.
  • Site-specific projects protect and improve specific environmental matters such as Priority Ecological Communities or a particular habitat with unique attributes.

Three priority areas for the first five years have been identified and are the starting point for the fund. Priority areas include:

  • Area 1: Chichester sub-bioregion – area south of Port Hedland centred on the Great Northern Highway
  • Area 2: Hamersley sub-region – area to the far east of the sub-region abutting the North West Coastal Highway
  • Area 3: Fortescue sub-bioregion – the mid Fortescue Valley. Include map of the 3 priority areas.

The priority areas included in each grant round will depend on the money available in the fund, and where projects that achieve long term outcomes for offset, are most feasible.