Legislating nature for biodiversity offsets in New South Wales, Australia

Mick Hillman, Lesley Instone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In the contemporary environmental management landscape, legislation is a principal means through which sustainable outcomes are negotiated. Yet the relations between legislation (as a social practice), nature and justice have been subjected to limited scrutiny. This paper explores these relations through consideration of a system of biodiversity offsets currently being implemented in New South Wales, Australia, following the enactment of the Threatened Species Conservation Amendment (Biodiversity Banking) Act 2006 (NSW). In this paper we investigate the work this legislation does in enacting the materiality of nature in order to explore the interrelations of materiality, law and concerns for environmental and ecological justice. We argue that the act of 'legislating nature' is simultaneously a 'mode of matter-ing' (Law 2004) that in the case of biodiversity banking (BioBanking), resituates biodiversity within new meanings, spatialities, human-nature relations, and which accounts for biodiversity at a state, rather than local, scale. Utilising the work of Latour, we examine the processes of 'translation' required to generate abstracted 'biodiversity values' that can be traded and moved between locations. Examination of these processes leads to a consideration of the broad requirements of environmental and ecological justice as a theoretical and political response to BioBanking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-431
Number of pages21
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Biodiversity banking
  • Environmental justice
  • Materiality
  • Mitigation banking
  • Post-political
  • Translation

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