by Hayley Purbrick (Environment Manager)

It feels like a long time ago now when I first started working with Tahbilk and progressing our environmental work forward. One of my first experiences happened around 10 years ago when I went to a sustainability forum in Euroa. As we sat in their newly renovated hall, I listened to Professor Snow Barlow talk about his views on our environmental future.

About mid-way through his talk he made what I felt at the time was a profound statement, and it’s stuck with me.
He said ‘first we will price water, then we will price carbon, and then we will price biodiversity’. At the time my ears pricked up. It was a statement I had never heard and really set my thinking from that point onwards.

The fundamentals of water markets were developed in the 1980s yet it wasn’t until 1994, when land and water were separated, that the foundations of national water trading commenced.

Following this in 2008, carbon trading was raised as an idea and now operates as a voluntary market. The challenge for carbon is that it is unlike water (an asset), as instead it is a pollution indicator, a liability. Until governments can grasp the idea of businesses being rewarded for reducing their environmental liabilities, not just rewarded for managing their  environmental assets, a mandated system seems impossible.

I am forever hopeful. Biodiversity is also growing in the consciousness of businesses all around the world. In our view, it is next on the cards and we are trying to take a proactive approach to this possibility.

What this looks like is the completion of our very first Ecological Assessment Report with CO2 Australia.

The process of this audit involved a field-based assessment of biodiversity values of the Estate, specifically our revegetation, over a six-day period. It also included participating in a trial where we measure the ecological condition of the site using the Accounting for Nature™ model.

What we found out was:

  • 126 species of fauna were observed or heard over the six days on site;
  • 4 species of fauna and 1 species of flora observed on site are listed as threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria);
  • Bird specie richness and bird communities differed with revegetation site age, with younger sites typically characterised by greater abundance and specie richness of small birds, and older sites supporting greater abundance of larger birds;
  • Our rating for native fauna was 82/100 and native vegetation 48/100.

What it means now is we have a baseline we can work from to try to improve our biodiversity on the Estate; an exciting place to be. My question is will Professor Snow Barlow’s prediction be realised?

I would love to know what you think.

Email me at


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