Summary In 2002 the Environmental Services Scheme (ESS) was launched in New South Wales, Australia. Its aim was to pilot a process to provide financial incentives to landholders to undertake changes in land use or land management that improved the status of environmental services (e.g. provision of clean water, healthy soils, biodiversity conservation). To guide the direction of incentive funds, metrics were developed for use by departmental staff to score the benefits of land use or land management changes to a range of environmental services. The purpose of this paper is to (i) report on the development of one of these metrics – the biodiversity benefits index; (ii) present the data generated by field application of the metric to 20 properties contracted to the ESS; and (iii) discuss the lessons learned and recent developments of the metric that aim to make it accessible to a wider range of end-users and applications.